Coalition Launches Anti-Hatred Campaign for Adolescents

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A broad-based coalition began a multimedia campaign last week that aims to stop intolerance and promote an appreciation of diversity among middle school students.

Called "Opening the Door to Diversity: Voices from the Middle School," the campaign is part of a public-private partnership created to teach students the harmful effects of intolerance and hate and to highlight positive ways of dealing with racial, ethnic, and other differences.

The partnership includes AT&T, Court TV, the National Middle School Association, the Anti-Defamation League, Cable in the Classroom, and the Department of Education. The Department of Justice will assist the group.

"Education needs to include not only traditional subjects just as reading and mathematics, but also vital issues relating to duties of citizenship, personal responsibility, and respect for others," Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley said at a press conference here to announce the effort.

"The only proven antidote to hate is education," said Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

The campaign includes a resource guide consisting of 10 lessons designed for 55-minute class periods. Lessons cover such topics as understanding stereotypes and discovering similarities and differences.

Appropriate Age Group

'We know that name-calling, stereotyping, and bullying escalate just as adolescents begin searching for a strong identity and a safe place to belong," the guide says. "Teaching children about diversity is not just a way for schools to be 'politically correct.' It is a way for them to survive. Unchecked, ignorance can grow into intolerance, harden into hate, and explode into violence," the guide concludes. Copies were to be sent to every middle school and junior high in the country beginning this week.

On Oct. 26, the cable channel Court TV will broadcast a program about diversity followed by a live presentation from Littleton, Colo., in which youths linked via video to other middle school students share their views. In an eerie coincidence, the location was chosen before the fatal shootings at nearby Columbine High School last April.

"There is no age group more important than young adolescents to hear the message that violent, inappropriate behavior has serious consequences," said Sue Swaim, the executive director of the middle school association.

Vol. 19, Issue 6, Page 11

Published in Print: October 6, 1999, as Coalition Launches Anti-Hatred Campaign for Adolescents
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