The Anti-Defamation League has been dealing with hate incidents for many years. As a result, it’s become the largest non-governmental provider of law enforcement training in the country, according to an email support alert it released today because it’s experiencing a spike in school requests for hate crimes help.
National Public Radio (NPR) featured ADL’s school peer-training program because Massachusetts schools have been contacting the state for help with hate incidents created by or affecting students and school populations through a hate crimes hotline established by Attorney General Maura Healey.
Schools across the region are also calling ADL directly a lot more often.
The demand for our work goes beyond Jewish institutions. Local middle and high schools are requesting ADL’s anti-bias programs at a rate not seen in years. Schools are calling ADL daily to request our assistance and expertise.”
Why They Need Hate Crimes Help
Tovia Smith of NPR’s All Things Considered wrote schools “are grappling with how to prevent and respond to incidents, often under enormous pressure and amid public outcry. Some have come under fire –- and investigation — for failing to report incidents. Administrators say they have to strike a delicate balance between being transparent and not giving offenders undue attention or provoking copycats.”
Schools are reporting that they find more recent hate crimes challenges overwhelming, and there is no standard for how they can deal with the types and flavor of incidences they are experiencing.
Administrators are being critiqued and criticized for how they handle incidents. They want to avoid headlines, according to a representative from the teachers’ union.
While the more recent “hate wave” includes overt incidents, like a student from Medway, Mass., featured in a video with a rifle saying the N-word and “kill ’em all,” some teachers are not tolerating gestures like hanging a swastika at school, and find school administrators will not always back them up.
It’s community accused Stoughton High School of being too soft on a student who hung a swastika, and overly punitive of the teacher that called a college to rescind a recommendation letter for the student. The teacher was suspended for 20 days. Stoughton Schools Superintendent Marguerite Rizzi told NPR the district is focused on both student misconduct and student privacy.
Calling in ADL’s Hate Crimes Help
Requests for ADL’s “A World Of Difference” program to address bigoted behavior has dramatically increased by five times, according to NPR.
Administrators can recruit students eager to address hate they witness or experience for a three-day training to learn how to run peer tolerance workshops. They role-play and take part in activities and exercises meant to encourage empathy and bystander intervention.
The schools are also leading racial healing exercises with affected students — like group art or writing projects — and hosting community conversations with professional facilitators.