Something special is happening this year at Oceanside Middle School, located in a small suburb on Long Island, NY—the entire school has committed to reducing the number of bias and bullying incidents at their school.
Oceanside Middle School is one of five schools nationwide to pilot No Place for Hate Plus, a program which aims to take anti-bias and bullying prevention work to another level by working to create an inclusive community where respect is the norm, students thrive academically and socially, and educators are culturally responsive.
No Place for Hate is an ADL initiative that began in 1999 as a community-based model in New England and quickly transformed into a nationwide K-12 school-based program. Today, 1700 schools use No Place for Hate to focus their bias and bullying efforts under one umbrella.
To be designated No Place for Hate under the traditional model, schools are required to form a steering committee of students, staff and family members, sign a Resolution of Respect, and undertake three school-wide activities that address some aspect of bias or bullying. Inspiration for the Plus model came from wanting to build on the success of the traditional No Place for Hate model and provide additional tools that ensure all positive changes in school climate are viable and lasting.
“We consider ourselves the 411 and 911 for a No Place for Hate school’s anti-bias and bullying prevention needs,” explains Jason Sirois, ADL Director of No Place for Hate. “As with any school-based program, though, we find that there is a wide variation in commitment level and engagement among participating schools due to varying access to resources. With the No Place for Hate Plus pilot, we want to move to a place where every participating school can find success by integrating ADL’s face-to-face anti-bias programming within the framework of No Place for Hate.”
With this integration, ADL is able to offer comprehensive training for students, school staff, and family members, and support the administering of a school climate survey that informs the No Place for Hate committee’s goal setting and implementation of activities. No Place for Hate Plus is being piloted in five schools across the country connected with ADL regional offices in Arizona, Atlanta, Houston, New York and Philadelphia and through it, ADL will be able to assess how the program works at different grade levels in varying regions.
As for Oceanside Middle School, their No Place for Hate committee, led by twenty-eight students, is currently in the process of developing three school-wide activities that will address the needs uncovered in the student climate survey administered last spring.
“We have always made addressing issues of bias and bullying a priority, but with the framework of No Place for Hate Plus, we have been able to engage students, staff and family members in a way that we believe will lead to real change,” explained Ina Leventhal, Oceanside Middle School counselor and No Place for Hate coordinator. “Change is a process, but I really believe that we are on track to create an environment where everyone feels respected and students can focus on becoming responsible global citizens.”
Based on the anticipated success of the No Place for Hate Plus pilot, ADL hopes to engage 100 schools across the country at this level by the 2019-2020 school year.
As Mr. Sirois puts it, “I can think of no better way to commemorate twenty years of No Place for Hate than to see schools across the country taking advantage of ADL resources to develop real, sustainable, positive change in school climate. I am thrilled to see Oceanside Middle School leading the way.”