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April 26, 2016 1

New ADL Resources for Safe and Respectful Schools

high school students and tabletsFears of extrem­ism, rad­i­cal­iza­tion and mass vio­lence in our schools have unfor­tu­nately become all too com­mon for edu­ca­tors and school admin­is­tra­tors across the United States. At the same time, infor­ma­tion that allows edu­ca­tors to under­stand the threat and leaves them equipped to address it with­out per­pet­u­at­ing biases and stereo­types is scarce. In order to fill this gap, the Anti-Defamation League and START (the National Con­sor­tium for the Study of Ter­ror­ism and Responses to Ter­ror­ism), have cre­ated a back­grounder pro­vid­ing accu­rate, empir­i­cally tested infor­ma­tion on under­stand­ing mass vio­lence and extrem­ism for edu­ca­tors and school administrators.

The new back­grounder is designed to enable edu­ca­tors to be bet­ter equipped to under­stand and appro­pri­ately respond to observ­able warn­ing signs and to imple­ment pro­grams that fos­ter safe school communities.

By com­bin­ing top­ics of mass vio­lence and vio­lent extrem­ism into one doc­u­ment, the back­grounder strives to pro­vide com­pre­hen­sive infor­ma­tion that is rel­e­vant as well as appro­pri­ate for all school dis­tricts. It empha­sizes the cre­ation of a three-pronged strat­egy to decrease risk for both rad­i­cal­iza­tion and mass vio­lence in schools, through:

  1. Aware­ness of observ­able warn­ing signs,
  2. Devel­op­ment of school pro­grams encour­ag­ing respect and inclu­sion, and
  3. Imple­men­ta­tion of cur­ricu­lum resources teach­ing stu­dents to be safe and con­sci­en­tious con­sumers of online material.

The doc­u­ment pro­vides fact-based evi­dence, empha­siz­ing a goal of pre­ven­tion rather than pre­dic­tion in order to ensure a wide safety net. At the same time, by high­light­ing the fact that feel­ings of iso­la­tion and mar­gin­al­iza­tion often play a pre­cip­i­tat­ing role in rad­i­cal­iza­tion and vio­lence, the doc­u­ment makes clear that pro­grams encour­ag­ing inclu­sion and dis­cour­ag­ing bias are at the core of any suc­cess­ful strat­egy for cre­at­ing safe schools.

In con­junc­tion with this back­grounder, ADL has also released a new Cur­rent Events Class­room les­son for high school stu­dents enti­tled Out­smart­ing Pro­pa­ganda: Com­bat­ting the Lure of Extrem­ist Recruit­ment Strate­gies. Pro­duced with addi­tional assis­tance from START, this cur­ricu­lum pro­vides the resources for stu­dents to uti­lize crit­i­cal think­ing when faced with pro­pa­ganda and mes­sag­ing they encounter online, increas­ing their abil­ity to rec­og­nize and resist extrem­ist pro­pa­ganda and recruit­ment strate­gies.  A par­al­lel resource for fam­i­lies, Pro­pa­ganda, Extrem­ism and Recruit­ment Tac­tics, guides adult fam­ily mem­bers in hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions with their chil­dren about ter­ror­ist exploita­tion of the Inter­net and online pro­pa­ganda – again, a cru­cial first step in ensur­ing that young peo­ple are less sus­cep­ti­ble to dan­ger­ous pro­pa­ganda and recruit­ment techniques.

As young peo­ple, par­ents and teach­ers are dis­cussing vio­lence, extrem­ism and ter­ror­ism, it is impor­tant that they don’t fall prey to stereo­typ­ing and scape­goat­ing that can some­times accom­pany these con­ver­sa­tions. In ADL’s anti-bias work, we pro­vide stu­dents with skills to under­stand the lan­guage of bias, be crit­i­cal thinkers, counter bias, big­otry and stereo­typ­ing and learn how to be an ally.

ADL has cre­ated a new web­page called Find­ing the Bal­ance: Coun­ter­ing Extrem­ism and Com­bat­ing Stereo­types that is designed to serve as a com­pre­hen­sive resource by pair­ing these new items with its exten­sive array of mate­ri­als for par­ents and teach­ers on teach­ing and dis­cussing ter­ror­ism, hate and vio­lence, big­otry, and scape­goat­ing, as well as resources for cre­at­ing inclu­sive, bias-free class­rooms. The new site also includes back­ground infor­ma­tion on extrem­ism and ter­ror­ism in the U.S. pro­duced by the ADL’s Cen­ter on Extrem­ism.

Together, these mate­ri­als will help to fill a cru­cial gap for both par­ents and edu­ca­tors by pro­vid­ing fact-based resources, cur­ric­ula, and back­grounders that can equip them to develop inclu­sive and safe schools, resis­tant to vio­lence and extrem­ism and respect­ful of all students.

 

 

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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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