Editors note: This post was written by WLRN reporter Tasnim Shamma.
As a new documentary about bullying hits theaters in New York and Los Angeles today, a growing number of South Florida schools are taking on the issue of students abusing and picking on their classmates.
More than 40 Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County have signed up for an anti-discrimination program called “No Place for Hate.”About 35 pre-K schools have joined the program in Palm Beach County.
And Pasadena Lakes Elementary School in Broward County just joined a growing list of South Florida schools certified as “No Place for Hate” Wednesday.
Lily Medina, the Education Project Director with the Florida Anti-Defamation League, says that the outreach has been focused on South Florida based on where they were able to receive grants. But the ADL’s “No Place For Hate” program hopes to expand to North Florida and Central Florida soon.
“There’s a need for it in every school,” Medina said. “In North Florida, we need to get it in the schools there. Even in private schools, they definitely need it.”
Medina says bullying is a problem all schools face, regardless of where in Florida the school is located. Schools must renew their certification on a yearly basis and involves an ADL trainer coming to the school and training students and teachers. The school is then required to hold three different activities that promote diversity and acceptance. Upon completion, they receive a “No Place For Hate” banner.
Medina says students have pointed to it in the hallways and reminded each other not to discriminate against their peers after participating in the program.
“If you’re getting bullied, you’re getting picked out for some sort of difference that you have,” Medina said. “We’re trying to build a community of allies that will stand up for any type of bias, stereotyping, name-calling, bullying and we want to change the culture of schools so that everybody will stand up [against it].”
On December 14, Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho announced that he would host a principal’s webcast in August to make “No Place For Hate” a district-wide initiative for the 2012-2013 school year.
Read more about the program: