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March 17, 2014 0

Teachers Teasing Youth is No Joke, It’s Bullying

A teacher raises his hand in A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Insti­tute train­ing and says, “I like to kid around with my stu­dents.” He says, “I like to have fun in my class so they are more likely to come to me when they need help.”

He calls one stu­dent his “favorite Mex­i­can,” another stu­dent “Dopey” and the only African-American stu­dent “MLK” (short for Mar­tin Luther King Jr.) This well-intentioned teacher has no idea he is bul­ly­ing his stu­dents, and race is a factor.

Bul­ly­ing is the repet­i­tive mis­treat­ment of oth­ers where there is an imbal­ance of power. The teacher in this exam­ple uses these nick­names often and, whether he real­izes or not, he is not a peer. He is the most pow­er­ful per­son in his classroom.

There is a fine line between harm­less jokes and bul­ly­ing behav­ior, and this exam­ple describes a good teacher on the wrong side of the line.

Using a student’s racial or eth­nic iden­tity is not a harm­less act, even if the inten­tion was never to do harm. Con­sider the impact of using identity-based humor in an edu­ca­tional set­ting. What mes­sage does the tar­geted stu­dent receive about the stan­dard of respect for teach­ers? What is the mes­sage about the accept­abil­ity of stereotyping?

Whether it is intended or not, the edu­ca­tion youth receive about the social accept­abil­ity of bias and right behav­ior is learned through every inter­ac­tion. Of the 28 per­cent of stu­dents who reported being bul­lied, 17.6 per­cent said they were made fun of, called names or insulted. For these stu­dents, jokes are no laugh­ing matter.

There is a land mine of pos­si­bil­i­ties when teach­ers choose to tease their stu­dents, because it can be con­sid­ered bul­ly­ing and con­tribute to a hos­tile envi­ron­ment. Here are some ideas for edu­ca­tors to con­sider:

  • Cre­ate a fun envi­ron­ment that does not place a stu­dent at the cen­ter of the joke. Do not sin­gle stu­dents out, or make them feel afraid to speak up out of fear that the joke will be on them
  • Do not per­pet­u­ate stereotypes—ever—and chal­lenge them when you hear them from oth­ers. Youth look to adults to get cues about what is socially over the line. Using stereo­types is def­i­nitely over the line and can fos­ter an unsafe class­room envi­ron­ment for stu­dents who are “different”
  • Be a role model, not a friend. Teach­ers have the power to influ­ence, so use it to pro­mote a higher social standard
  • Do not shame stu­dents who express or react to what you believe is harm­less teas­ing. Responses like, “Don’t be so sen­si­tive!” can fur­ther demean a stu­dent who may be appeal­ing to a teacher for support.
  • Solicit feed­back from stu­dents about their com­fort in the class­room. It will help you  make sure  they feel respected by everyone.



Cuando los mae­stros hacen bro­mas a los jóvenes, no es chiste es intimidación


Un mae­stro lev­anta la mano en un entre­namiento de A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE ® Insti­tute  y dice: “Me gusta bromear con mis alum­nos”. Afirma que “Me gusta diver­tirme en mis clases y así los alum­nos son más propen­sos a venir a mí cuando nece­si­tan ayuda”.

Él llama a uno de sus alum­nos mi “mex­i­cano favorito”, a otro “Atur­dido (Dopey)” y a su único estu­di­ante afroamer­i­cano lo llama “MLK” (ini­ciales de Mar­tin Luther King Jr.). Este  bien inten­cionado mae­stro no tiene idea de que está intim­i­dando a sus alum­nos, y la raza es un factor.

Bul­ly­ing es el mal­trato repet­i­tivo de otros cuando hay un dese­qui­lib­rio de poder. El mae­stro de este ejem­plo uti­liza estos apo­dos a menudo y, se dé cuenta o no, él no es un par. Es la per­sona más poderosa en el salón de clase.

La difer­en­cia entre bro­mas inofen­si­vas y com­por­tamiento intim­i­dador es muy leve, y este ejem­plo describe a un buen mae­stro en el lado equiv­o­cado de la línea.

Usar la iden­ti­dad racial o étnica de un estu­di­ante no es un acto inofen­sivo, aun si no existe la inten­ción de hacer daño. Con­sidere el impacto de usar humor basado en la iden­ti­dad en un entorno educa­tivo. ¿Qué men­saje recibe el estu­di­ante víc­tima del humor sobre la norma de respeto a los mae­stros? ¿Cuál es el men­saje acerca de la acept­abil­i­dad de los estereotipos?

Sea inten­cional o no, la edu­cación que los jóvenes reciben sobre la acept­abil­i­dad social del pre­juicio y el com­por­tamiento cor­recto es apren­dida en cada inter­ac­ción. Del 28% de los estu­di­antes que infor­maron estar siendo intim­i­da­dos, el 17.6%  dijo que se burla­ban de ellos o los insulta­ban. Para esos estu­di­antes, las bro­mas no son algo gracioso.

Cuando los mae­stros deci­den bromear con sus alum­nos hay una gama infinita de posi­bil­i­dades, ya que esto puede con­sid­er­arse intim­i­dación y con­tribuir a un ambi­ente hos­til. Aquí pre­sen­ta­mos algu­nas ideas para que los edu­cadores ten­gan en cuenta:

  • Cree un  ambi­ente diver­tido que no coloque a un estu­di­ante en el cen­tro de la broma. No señale estu­di­antes especí­fi­cos o los haga sen­tir miedo de hablar por temor a ser el sujeto de la broma
  • No per­petúe estereoti­pos —nunca— y desafíe­los cuando escuche a otros usar­los. Los jóvenes obser­van a los adul­tos para obtener pis­tas sobre lo que es social­mente ina­cept­able. Uti­lizar estereoti­pos es defin­i­ti­va­mente incor­recto y puede fomen­tar un ambi­ente inse­guro para los estu­di­antes que son “diferentes”
  • Sea un mod­elo a seguir, no un amigo. Los mae­stros tienen el poder de influir, así que util­ice su poder para pro­mover un mayor nivel social
  • No avergüence a los estu­di­antes que se expre­san o reac­cionar ante lo que usted cree son bro­mas inofen­si­vas. Respues­tas como, “¡No seas tan sen­si­ble!” pueden degradar más aún al estu­di­ante que recurre a un pro­fe­sor en busca de apoyo.
  • Pida a los estu­di­antes retroal­i­mentación sobre su sen­sación de como­di­dad en el salón de clase. Le ayu­dará a ase­gu­rarse de que se sien­ten respeta­dos por todos.


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January 7, 2014 2

Just Ask the Kids About Bullying

Youth are the real experts on what is hap­pen­ing in bul­ly­ing on school cam­puses, and yet their voices, per­spec­tives and lead­er­ship are rarely inte­grated into bul­ly­ing pre­ven­tion programs.

Use stu­dent voices as a part of the solution

“Just ask the kids” is the tagline for a new book high­light­ing research from the Youth Voice Project, the first large-scale research project on bul­ly­ing and peer mis­treat­ment that did exactly that—ask the kids (more than 13,000 teens in 31 schools).  And when you think about it, isn’t it obvious?

For the nearly 25 years of imple­ment­ing train­ing and work­shops nation­ally with youth of all ages through ADL’s A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Insti­tute, the stu­dents reg­u­larly echo the same sen­ti­ment. “Adults don’t under­stand.” And “No one lis­tens to us.”

For ADL, involv­ing stu­dents was a no-brainer and inte­gral to our work. Using stu­dent voices as a part of the solu­tion is a strength that schools every­where should be uti­liz­ing.  One exam­ple of that strength was high­lighted when four youths, all stu­dent lead­ers from Gris­som High School in Huntsville, AL, pre­sented on the impact of ADL’s No Place for Hate® cam­paign ini­tia­tive at the Inter­na­tional Bul­ly­ing Pre­ven­tion Asso­ci­a­tion Con­fer­ence.

Even more impor­tant than the specifics the stu­dents shared about the great work they have done in imple­ment­ing their No Place for Hate ini­tia­tive, the stu­dents pro­vided very thought­ful and impor­tant advice about what  adults can—and need—to do to bet­ter sup­port stu­dents in cre­at­ing an inclu­sive and wel­com­ing school culture.

More than any­thing, they said, stu­dents want the adults in their schools to be bet­ter role mod­els, and to take these issues as seri­ously as the stu­dents. We can’t ask stu­dents to make a com­mit­ment that the adults are not also making!

The Gris­som High School team looks for­ward to shar­ing this pre­sen­ta­tion at other fac­ulty meet­ings and venues.  They have also asked to be part of a group to review and revise their district’s anti-bullying policy.

And once you have stu­dent experts, THEY can help design and lead pro­grams for fam­i­lies.  Adult fam­ily mem­bers will come out more often when their kids have a role in a pro­gram, so it’s a great way to get par­ent and fam­ily involve­ment, and open that impor­tant dia­logue among fam­ily members.

It takes real, hon­est dia­logue among stu­dents AND adults to make last­ing and sig­nif­i­cant changes.

For more ideas about what stu­dents think teach­ers should know, check out ADL’s tips on 10 Things Stu­dent Wish Teach­ers Knew.


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August 20, 2013 0

ADL Coordinates Coalition Letter On Department Of Education Bullying Data Collection Proposal

On June 21, the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion (DoE) announced a num­ber of revi­sions to its Civil Rights Data Col­lec­tion (CRDC) school sur­vey.  The CRDC is the largest, most impor­tant, and most com­pre­hen­sive data col­lec­tion instru­ment of its kind.  It requires schools and school dis­tricts to pro­vide data on a wide range of rel­e­vant edu­ca­tion issues.  The DoE pro­posed that CRDC add sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and reli­gion to their exist­ing effort to col­lect data on bul­ly­ing and harass­ment on the basis of race, sex, and disability. civil-rights-data-collection-bullying

Accom­pa­ny­ing resources for the DoE announce­ment stated: 

Safe envi­ron­ments are crit­i­cal to learn­ing. Since the 2009, the CRDC has pro­vided a lens on school cli­mate and the bul­ly­ing and harass­ment that stu­dents too often endure on the basis of race, sex, and disability….

ADL coor­di­nated a let­ter from 49 national orga­ni­za­tions pro­vid­ing com­ments relat­ing to these pro­posed CRDC revi­sions.  In our com­ments, ADL and its coali­tion of edu­ca­tion, reli­gious, civil rights and pro­fes­sional orga­ni­za­tions sup­ported DoE’s deci­sion to expand the CRDC to include reports of bul­ly­ing and harass­ment based on sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and reli­gion, and encour­aged the col­lec­tion of data on inci­dents based on gen­der iden­tity. We argued that though the impact of bul­ly­ing has been well doc­u­mented, there is insuf­fi­cient data on the nature and mag­ni­tude of bul­ly­ing directed at indi­vid­u­als on the basis of their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion – and even less on religion-based and gen­der identity-based bullying.  

ADL and its allies also urged the Depart­ment to recon­sider their pro­posal to elim­i­nate ques­tions relat­ing to whether a school has adopted writ­ten bul­ly­ing pre­ven­tion poli­cies.  An essen­tial start­ing point for effec­tive response to bul­ly­ing and harass­ment in schools is the adop­tion of a com­pre­hen­sive, inclu­sive bul­ly­ing and harass­ment pre­ven­tion pol­icy.  The inclu­sion of ques­tions relat­ing to whether an edu­ca­tion unit has such a pol­icy, the coali­tion argued, ele­vates aware­ness of the value of these poli­cies and demon­strates that hav­ing such poli­cies is impor­tant and sig­nif­i­cant enough to high­light in the CRDC.  The coali­tion let­ter also urged the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion to ask the edu­ca­tion units that have adopted a bul­ly­ing and harass­ment pre­ven­tion pol­icy to pro­vide a link to their pol­icy as part of their CRDC response.

A top pri­or­ity for the Anti-Defamation League is work­ing to cre­ate safe, inclu­sive schools and com­mu­ni­ties and ensur­ing that all stu­dents have access to equal edu­ca­tional oppor­tu­ni­ties.  Over the past decade, the League has emerged as a prin­ci­pal national resource devel­op­ing edu­ca­tion and advo­cacy tools to pre­vent prej­u­dice and big­otry. ADL has built on award-winning anti-bias edu­ca­tion and train­ing ini­tia­tives, includ­ing the A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Insti­tute, to craft inno­v­a­tive pro­gram­ming and advo­cacy to address bul­ly­ing and its per­ni­cious elec­tronic form known as cyber­bul­ly­ing.  ADL takes a holis­tic approach to address­ing bul­ly­ing and cyber­bul­ly­ing, track­ing the nature and mag­ni­tude of the prob­lem, devel­op­ing edu­ca­tion and train­ing pro­grams, and advo­cat­ing — at the state and fed­eral level — for poli­cies and pro­grams that can make a difference.

It will be incum­bent on ADL and our allies to work with schools and school dis­tricts to make sure schools and school dis­tricts are report­ing this data accu­rately – and using the data to improve the cli­mate for learn­ing for all students.

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