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Tolerance at School


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It can happen in any school - a hateful act by a student, staff member or person outside the school family suddenly poisons the air. Most schools have plans in place for responding to fires, hazardous weather, weapons possession, fights, medical emergencies and other situations that call for quick assessment and decisive action. Unfortunately, when bias-motivated incidents occur, many educators discover that they have not planned ahead.

At such a moment, school officials face a number of difficult challenges that include ensuring safety and preventing escalation. As painful and disruptive as a hateful act can be, it's important to remember that a bias incident does not define the school's character. Rather, the real test is the message the school sends to everyone concerned - each day as well as in emergencies.

Responding to Hate at School is designed to help administrators, teachers and counselors react promptly and effectively to all bias incidents, and to involve students, as well as parents and community leaders, in finding solutions to underlying tensions. It offers proven strategies and concrete steps for addressing day-to-day problems such as casual use of putdowns, emergency situations like hate crimes, and long-term issues including school policies and staff development designed to promote harmony.

We have defined bias incidents broadly as any acts directed against people or property that are motivated by prejudice based on race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, social affiliation, ability or appearance. These include hate crimes, ranging from violent assault and harassment to vandalism and graffiti, as well as hate speech, hate literature and derogatory language and imagery in all media.

The events cited in this guide are actual incidents that have occurred in recent years. In developing model responses for similar incidents, we talked to administrators, teachers and students in school districts across the country. They generously described and evaluated steps their schools took when bias incidents occurred, sometimes adding steps they wished they had taken. We also talked to victims of campus incidents, teachers who train student conflict mediators, religious leaders, and organizations concerned with hate at school. We thank them all.

Original article appears on Tolerance.org

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M Lee
Aug 2, 2008 1:29pm [ 1 ]

it is acceptance we seek not tolerance

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