Resources Addressing Hate and Harassment in Schools

Our schools reflect our society’s strengths, hopes, aspirations and many challenges—challenges that range from the fact that some don’t have a home or enough to eat to others who don’t know where they fit in or whose anger has become aggression.

There have been many incidents in schools in recent weeks, months and years that reflect these challenges, among them bullying, school shootings and most recently expressions of anger, frustration and hate that include swastikas being drawn in bathrooms, headscarves being torn off and intimidating language ranging from threats of deportation to sexually demeaning comments.

Hate speech in schools in unacceptable. But this is not a new issue. In 1999, the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education issued a guide for schools on protecting students from harassment and hate crime. In 2001, the Learning First Alliance produced a guide on safe and supportive schools. So while some claim the election process and results caused this outpouring of hate, the problem goes far beyond it.

Now is an opportunity for our schools and society to talk about how to help every child feel safe. The teachers, parents, administrators and others who are seeing this current release of hate and frustration also need our support and praise in their efforts to intervene. Stopping a child who is shouting about deportation or an intolerance takes moral and physical courage that we all should admire. 

LFA member organizations and many others that work with and advocate for children, youth and families have created resources to help adults facilitate respectful dialogue among students and support those who feel at risk. They are also pressuring national figures to address the issue. For example, several members have joined a call to make our schools' values known. Some signed a letter to the president-elect asking him to publicly denounce acts of hatred and deliver a message of peace and unity to all Americans.

Additional materials to help educators both prevent these acts and intervene when they occur, protecting those who need protecting and changing those whose behavior is appalling, include:

LFA member resources on building a healthy school culture

Other useful resources

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