Sticks & Stones etc – But Names Might Hurt You After All!

by DavalosMcCormack on January 18, 2010

Some people call their kids the weirdest names. I remember reading about a family in Scotland, the McCann’s, who called their son Genghis. It was probably funny for about five minutes before it left him scarred for life. Pop star Bob Geldoff called his daughter Fifi Trixiebelle! Now there’s a gal who is in for a lot of therapy. One couple, Mr.  & Mrs. Monday called their child Monday. That’s right. Monday Monday. Of course even that is better than calling your daughter – and I’m not making this up – Tiny Hooker.

All this came to mind when I saw a couple of studies that show that what you name your child can have a lifelong impact on them, even to the point of shortening that life!

In one study, researchers at Wayne State University, found that giving your child a name that begins with the letter “D” may help result in them dying younger than their peers. I kid you not!

The researchers compared the lifespans of 10,000 athletes and professionals whose name began with either an A, B, C, or D. Why those letters? Because those are the ones linked to grades we all get in school. Those with names starting in a D were more likely to die sooner than people with names starting with A, B, or C.

The researchers speculate because D is associated with failure in the classroom, that people whose name begins with a D may grow up feeling like a failure, and that low self-esteem could result in dangerous behaviours such as smoking and drinking, taking drugs or playing with loaded pistols.

If you want to read more about this you can find all the details in the fabulously titled journal Death Studies.

But if you have named your darling son Dennis and are now feeling guilty there may be a way out of this. The researchers who did this study did another one a few years ago in which they found that baseball players who have a nickname live longer than players who don’t. So, give young Dennis a baseball bat and start calling him Scooter or Chief, anything that doesn’t start with a D.

Which leaves just one question in my mind. Who the heck gives these people the money to do this research?

The second study about the power of names found that juveniles with the least popular names are more likely to engage in criminal activity. The researchers from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania compared the first names of young boys in juvenile detention centers with the first names of young men in the general population for that state.

They came up with a measurement system where the more common a name is, and the less likely it was to belong to a kid in juvy, the higher the score it got. So, the name Michael got a score of 150 for example and David got a score of 50. In contrast, less common names and those most frequently found in boys in the slammer got a low score. So, Alec, Ivan and Kareem got a score of one.

The study came to the conclusion that, regardless of race, the boys with the least popular names were the ones most likely to engage in criminal activity. Or at least the ones most likely to get caught! Maybe it was just a matter of someone finking them out and saying “Ishmael did it”. Now, if there’s only one Ishmael in the town you know right off who did it. But if they say “It was John” and there’s hundreds of Johns, you are screwed.

The researchers didn’t think so either!! They think it’s because a youngster with a weird name is treated differently than other kids and so they find it hard to develop relationships and before you know it they’re doing two years in jail.

Of course it doesn’t hold that just because the kid has a weird name he’s heading for trouble. Otherwise Barack Hussein Obama would be in the Big House today and not the White House.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Laura Davies January 19, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Interesting, but it ignores the skew in various ethnic communities of unique names, and the corresponding skew in jail/prison rates.


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