Confronting Swastikas In Schools: ADL Conducts Anti-Bias Peer Training
New York, NY, December 5, 2007 … In response to a recent incident involving swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti at a public school, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) conducted A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute Peer Training at Murray Bergtraum High School in lower Manhattan.
"We hope this program will help students better understand the meaning of hate and bigotry, and the impact of hate symbols such as swastikas," said Joel J. Levy, ADL New York Regional Director. "Peer training teaches people that our differences enrich our lives and should be respected and embraced."
One of the issues discussed with the students was the history of the swastika and how it was used as a symbol in Nazi Germany. Students learned about anti-Semitism and the legacy of the Holocaust, and why the swastika is a hate symbol that is offensive to so many.
More than two dozen students from the school were selected to participate in the program, which focuses on identity, examining bias (in themselves and in others), and challenging bias (in themselves and in their communities). Students are expected to continue applying the lessons learned after the formal training ends. On the final day of the workshop, students learn how to facilitate activities so they can go into classrooms and use the positive power of peer influence.
Other activities included "Concentric Circles," in which students conversed with one another on specific topics, and a discussion of the "Pyramid of Hate" – a visual representation of how hate escalates. Two ADL facilitators conducted the training.
The New York City Department of Education asked ADL to offer training at the school following the discovery of anti-Semitic scrawls there in October.
The Peer Training Program is offered through ADL's A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute and is based on the premise that anti-bias education can and should be spread through the most powerful agents of change in a high school – the students themselves.
Law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is sponsoring ADL's program in eight New York City public high schools.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.