The Respectful School: How Educators and Students Can Conquer Hate and Harassment

The Respectful School: How Educators and Students Can Conquer Hate and Harassment

The Respectful School: How Educators and Students Can Conquer Hate and Harassment

The Respectful School: How Educators and Students Can Conquer Hate and Harassment

Synopsis

The Respectful School: How Educators and Students Can Conquer Hate and HarassmentNot a school day goes by without some student facing teasing or slurs in the hallways, classrooms, or playgrounds. Left unchecked, such harassment can escalate and create an oppressive school climate where stress and fear overpower learning. In The Respectful School, Stephen L. Wessler vividly describes how words can hurt--both emotionally and physically--and how words can heal. Drawing on his experience as a state prosecutor overseeing hate crime enforcement and as director of the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence, Wessler discusses what educators can do to create a truly respectful environment that promotes positive interactions among staff and students. He relates the experiences of young victims and the hopeful stories of programs that have reduced harassment, showing how educators can both protect and enlighten students through coordinated efforts such as:? Learning effective intervention skills, ? Modeling civility, ? Developing student peer leader programs, ? Working with student victims and their parents, ? Creating comprehensive antiharassment polices, ? Confronting perpetrators and their crimes, and ? Responding to the effects of terrorist acts and related prejudice. Throughout the book, Wessler urges us to remember that we need to nurture the courage and compassion of young people to create supportive learning communities. Only then can students and educators join in speaking out for a respectful school, where tolerance and civility overcome the language of hate.

Excerpt

A few years ago, I received a telephone call from a principal of a middle school participating in the State of Maine Attorney General's Civil Rights Team Project, a peer leader program focused on the prevention of hate crimes. At that time, I was the prosecutor in charge of civil rights enforcement for the attorney general's office. The principal called to tell me a [remarkable] story involving two brothers who were students in the adjoining high school. These boys came from a very poor family. They came to school in old clothes, sometimes with patches and other obvious repairs, and always out of fashion. The brothers were quiet, not very popular, and the butt of continual jokes, put-downs, and snide remarks from a group of four or five other high school boys. The remarks began every morning when the brothers got on their school bus and never let up until they got off to go to their first-period class. Every afternoon when the brothers left school, the humiliating process repeated itself.

One boy who rode the same bus, a middle school student, became increasingly upset about the mean and degrading treatment of the two brothers by the . . .

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