Eight Miami Beach public schools will be recognized and designated as ‘No Place for Hate’ schools Wednesday evening in a ceremony put on by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as part of the organization’s nationwide anti-bullying and anti-cyberbullying campaign. The eight schools -- ranging from kindergarten to high school -- will join the more than 70 other South Florida schools who have been recognized since the program started in 2010.
The initiative, which kicked off nationally six years ago, aims at “creating a school climate that’s respectful for all students,” said Lily Medina, ADL’s Florida education director.
The ADL was founded in 1913 “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all,” according to the organization’s website. It has since broadened its scope to fight all forms of bigotry in the U.S. and abroad with 27 regional and satellite offices as well as one in Israel.
In order to qualify for the ‘No Place for Hate’ designation, schools must complete at least three anti-bias activities from the organization’s resource guide, participate in one ADL education training program and sign a resolution of respect form. The activities and programs are aimed at facilitating tolerance and prevent prejudice and stereotyping among elementary, middle and high school students. They also try to increase awareness among teachers. The designation is awarded on a yearly basis, Medina said, adding that ADL covers the training fees for about 20 schools in Miami each year.
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At the elementary level the organization tries to do empathy building programs in an effort to “stop the name-calling right in the beginning,” Medina said. Other initiatives like the CyberALLY program focus on the growing threat from cyberbullying.
The longer schools participate, the more effective they find the programs to be, Medina said. Some schools, like Cutler Bay Academy, make it a point to receive the designation each year.
“The teachers say they see the changes in the school climate,” Medina said.
A 2012 study by an independent evaluation firm found that 93% of the students who participated in the CyberALLY program indicated that they learned different strategies for responding to cyberbullying. Almost three quarters said that they applied what they learned in their everyday lives.
The interactive programs are a hit with the kids, too.
“They love it,” Medina said. “They want us to come back. It’s fun for them.”
The eight schools are Miami Beach Senior High, Nautilus Middle School, Fienberg/Fisher K-8 Center, Biscayne Elementary Community School, South Pointe Elementary School, North Beach Elementary School, Treasure Island Elementary School and Ruth K. Broad Bay Harbor Elementary School. The ceremony will take place at North Shore Park Band Shell at 7275 Collins Ave. in Miami Beach from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. It will feature musical performances by students and a banner presentation.