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January 13, 2014

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

Five Tips for Working with Children, Tweens, and Teens 

Martin Luther King Jr.

As we honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy through the National Day of Service on January 20, 2014, we encourage teachers, parents and families to provide community service opportunities for children and youth.  Below are tips to help make the experience meaningful.

 

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

—Martin Luther King Jr.

 

1.     Generate service learning ideas from children and youth.

Engage young people in a discussion and brainstorming session about their community, encouraging them to think critically about its most important assets and what areas need more support. The more buy-in youth have from the beginning, the more investment they will have in the project, and it will have a more lasting effect on them and their communities.

 

2.     Think beyond community service to social action.

While it is important for youth to help others, the experience will have more meaning if they see the big picture.  It is one thing to spend a few hours at a homeless shelter distributing lunch;  take the service project to another level by helping young people understand why people are homeless and what they can do about it.  Engage youth in social-action strategies, such as writing letters; social media campaigns, including online petitions and donations; engaging in advocacy to get a law or bill passed; creating PSAs (public service announcements); and delivering speeches.

 

3.     Use the experience as an opportunity to build empathy.

Service provides a rich opportunity for youth to develop empathy for others, especially those who are in need.  As they are serving, make sure young people see the complexity and humanity in the people they serve.  Prepare children for the experience by answering their questions, listening to their fears and dispelling their misconceptions.

 

4.     Be aware of bias-related language and be careful not to perpetuate stereotypes.

Make sure the experience helps youth connect with the people they are serving rather than perpetuate stereotypes. Address thinking that focuses on pity or simplistic understanding of people’s circumstances. Guide to move beyond thinking of people as the “other” (i.e., “not one of us”) to understanding and respecting their humanity.. Remind youth to use language that does not equate people with their characteristics or actions (i.e., say “people with disabilities, not “disabled people”; say “youth who bully,” rather than “bullies”).

 

5.     Inspire children and youth to change the world.

Convey the message to youth that they can change the world.  Even a small, one-time action of helping their neighbors and communities can have a deep impact on a young person.

 

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January 18, 2013

ADL Workshop Cultivates Ally Behavior Online

Over the past few years the media has covered many stories about cyberbullying and its detrimental effects on youth.  The research, and our own experiences, make it clear that cyberbullying hurts the youth targeted and creates a negative experience for those who witness the behavior.   We also know that youth are often targeted online because of their identity, including their weight, real or perceived sexual orientation, gender expression, religion and race.

To help address issues of cyberbullying, ADL’s AWORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute created CyberALLY®, a half-day (3-hour) or full-day (6-hour) interactive training for middle and high school-age youth that provides practical information and opportunities for skill-building.  CyberALLY supports youth in developing personal strategies for protecting themselves against cyberbullying as well as acting as cyberallies—preventing and taking action against cyberbullying and social cruelty in online forum.

We recently conducted a research evaluation of CyberALLYto assess the effectiveness of the training program and gain insight into areas for improvement.  Funded by Circle of Service and Microsoft, we contracted with an evaluation research firm, TCC Group, to design and conduct the evaluation.  With TCC Group, we identified in research terms the outcomes we hoped to achieve with CyberALLY:  1) awareness and knowledge about cyberbullying, 2) demonstration of responsible and ethical online behavior, and 3) ability to be a CyberALLY.

The data analysis shows highly statistically significant improvement in all three outcome areas, indicating that the CyberALLY program is effectively equipping students to take action against cyberbullying. The students showed the greatest improvement in the outcome “the ability to be a cyberally.”  Some specific findings include: 93% of students indicated that they learned different strategies for responding to cyberbullying and online bias and 81% indicated that “all kids my age should participate in this workshop.”  By changing the culture from one of passive bystanders to one of active cyberallies, we can change the way students interact online. In all, the results of this evaluation have shown that ADL is contributing to furthering the  overall goal of fostering increased cyber-civility and a culture of e-safety among our youth.

For specific strategies on how you can be a cyberally and address bias and bullying online, visit www.adl.org/combatbullying.

 

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October 23, 2012

Fighting Back Against Bullying

October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month:
Read this story and find out what ADL is doing to prevent bullying.

ADL teams with schools, government and Hollywood.

“They punch me in the jaw, strangle me, they knock things out of my hand, take things from me, sit on me. They push me so far that I want to become the bully.” — Alex, 12

Alex, a student from Sioux City, Iowa, is a target of bullying whose story is told in the powerful documentary, “Bully.” The film, released by The Weinstein Company with ADL as a partner, vividly depicts verbal abuse and violence that made school a living hell for Alex and four other children—two of whom committed suicide.

ADL has used this film as a teaching tool. To date, we have screened it at ADL anti-bullying events in two dozen locations around the country to drive home a point we’ve been making for more than a decade: bullying has serious consequences and must be dealt with seriously. According to research by the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program of the Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life at Clemson University, 16.8 percent of youth are bullied two to three times per month or more.

“The impact of unchecked bullying is one that carries over beyond the school years and affects the behavior of adults and the entire society,” ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman wrote about the movie in an article for The Daily Beast/Newsweek.

“ADL’s mission to fight hate and prejudice does not stop at the schoolhouse door,” says ADL Civil Rights Director Deborah Lauter. “We continue our work so that all children feel truly protected, including students who are bullied because of their ancestry, color, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, religion or race.”

 

A Holistic Approach

ADL is unique because we fight bullying holistically, by tracking the nature and magnitude of the problem, developing education programs for parents, teachers, administrators and students, and by crafting legal and legislative responses. “It takes a whole community to allow bullying to go on, and it takes a whole community to make sure it doesn’t,” Mr. Foxman says.

“ADL’s anti-bias, anti-bullying programs, which reach over two million every year, sensitize participants to the pain inflicted by bullying and cyberbullying and train teachers, students, parents and administrators to respond effectively,” notes David Waren, ADL Education Division Director. “Our programs give a voice to the target, build empathy in the perpetrators and inspire bystanders to become allies.”

“If just one person had spoken up for me, maybe the bullying would have stopped,” said ADL Peer Trainer Nikki Allinson at a Congressional briefing in May. She had been tormented for being Jewish during her childhood in Connecticut. “Bully” director Lee Hirsch and ADL Washington Counsel Michael Lieberman also spoke at the briefing, which was hosted by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)—a participant in an ADL “Bully” screening program in Houston.

 

Training Security and Legal Experts

Because first responders to bullying are often school police officers, ADL is training them as well. School security officers in Los Angeles are learning about the characteristics and impact of cyberbullying, and how to intervene and prevent it. In Chicago, ADL trained approximately 1,500 Chicago Public School security officers about the nature and danger of cyberbullying and key legal issues including freedom of speech and its limits, privacy, Illinois’ anti-bullying law and criminal law issues.

With so many legal ramifications, ADL is helping legal experts keep up to date on bullying and cyberbullying case law. Moreover, ADL has partnered with several state Attorneys General and U.S. Attorneys to train law enforcement officers, school administrators, social workers and others about legal issues raised by bullying and cyberbullying.

 

Creating Smart Laws

ADL is promoting state laws that mandate school bullying policies. “A law gives schools the power to do something about a bullying problem,” says ADL Civil Rights Director Deborah Lauter. “Without a law, schools may choose not to create anti-bullying policies, or may not actually enforce policies.”

In 2009, ADL created a model anti-bullying statute that outlines what an effective law should include, for example: a strong definition of bullying that includes cyberbullying; enumerated categories to explicitly address bullying motivated by personal characteristics; clear bullying reporting procedures; and required regular training for teachers and students about bullying and cyberbullying. Partly because of ADL’s advocacy, 49 states and the District of Columbia have anti-bullying laws on the books, and we are working to strengthen those that are not comprehensive.

ADL is also supporting two pieces of federal legislation, the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2011 and the Safe Schools Improvement Act. The first would require colleges and universities to recognize cyberbullying as a form of harassment and fund anti-harassment programs. The second would help schools develop and implement bullying prevention policies and programs, and would require states to gather and report information about bullying and harassment.

“The law is a blunt instrument when addressing bullying. It’s much better to prevent it in the first place,” says ADL Washington Counsel Michael Lieberman. “But these federal laws would provide an important frame to complement our education and training initiatives.”

 

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