News & Updates

October is National Bullying Prevention Month

Bullying is a human right issue.

At least one in every five children experience bullying in school.

Bullying is not simply about threats, intimidation, and violence; bullying is an abuse of a child’s human rights. Addressing bullying from a human rights perspective addresses all forms of bullying, both those based on bias toward a particular group (e.g., race, religion, ethnicity), and those rising from personal animosity (e.g., jealousy, status, class, appearance, individual idiosyncrasy).

National Bullying Prevention Month is a nationwide campaign founded in 2006 by the the Parents Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER), an advocacy organization for children with disabilities. The campaign is held during the month of October and unites communities around the world to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention. This campaign has grown from an initial week-long event to a worldwide effort with thousands of individuals participating in multiple activities throughout October.

The focus of National Bullying Prevention Month is the importance of creating a safe environment for learning in our schools by eliminating bullying.  This means it requires a community wide effort to assure that children are safe at school, while online, and in their community. Preventing bullying needs to be addressed both in the classroom, throughout the entire school environment and in the wider community beyond.

orangeUnity Day is the signature event of National Bullying Prevention Month. “Make it Orange and Make it End,” is the Unity Day slogan. This year Unity Day is on October 25, 2017.  People are encouraged to wear the color orange on this day to show their solidarity with the bullying prevention cause and send the message everywhere that no one deserves to be bullied.

HRE USA encourages educators, students and everyone to take part in this effort and recognize the human rights dimension of bullying prevention.  Article 1 of the UDHR states:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (signed but not yet ratified by the United States) recognizes that all children, without exception, must be allowed “to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity (Principle 1)” and must “be protected from practices which may foster racial, religious and any other form of discrimination (Principle 10).” Bullying and demeaning treatment of any kind is antithetical to respect for human dignity.

Rights come with responsibilities. Everyone has a responsibility to create a safe environment by standing up against violence, harassment, and bullying. When schools and communities do not respond to stop bullying, they are failing their responsibility to protect the victim’s human rights. Students also have a responsibility to protect the human rights of others. Only when bystanders take safe and appropriate action can bullying be prevented.

For further resources on creating a bully-free, human rights-friendly classroom , please check out the “Bullying” section in HRE USA’s Resource Library.

New Human Rights Here & Now Bulletin

How do teachers bring human rights into an increasingly restricted curriculum? HRE USA’s latest Human Rights Here and Now Bulletin will help you answer this question. The publication features guest editors Jessica Mintz and John Terry, who were part of a special team of New Jersey educators that developed a collection of adaptable and accessible model lessons that support the integration of HRE into their state’s curriculum.

>> Download Bulletin

ARTE Social Justice Workshops

Art and Resistance Through Education (ARTE) is offering innovative, educational social justice workshops for both youth and adults. ARTE focuses on the intersection of human rights with art, design, and technology. Workshops themes include:

  • Art as a tool for social justice
  • Human rights education for youth
  • Using the arts to realize your social justice passion
  • Making human rights change through art and design

ARTE will work with you to explore how to best serve your community’s needs and customize a workshop that will best support your own grassroots organizing. ARTE seeks to build critical partnerships that will allow them to collaboratively make meaningful and sustainable human rights change.

Workshops range from 60 minutes to full day-long workshops. Please contact Marissa Gutierrez for more information. You may also fill out our workshop request form. While based in New York City, ARTE can also visit cities outside of their home base.

>> Learn more
>> Workshop Request Form

National Council for Social Studies Conference

EVENT DETAILS:

When: November 17-19
Where: San Francisco, CA

San Francisco’s rich history and vibrant neighborhoods come alive at the 97th NCSS Annual Conference, November 17-19, 2017 (pre-conference meetings November 15-16). Join NCSS in its first return to the Bay Area in more than 30 years for the world’s largest and most comprehensive social studies professional development conference.

Join more than 3,000 of your social studies colleagues to share the most current knowledge, ideas, research and expertise in social studies education, and to experience the history, culture, and color that are uniquely San Francisco.

HRE USA and the NCSS HRE Community will be hosting a series of events at the NCSS conference. Further details will be provided in the October newsletter and on our website.

We hope to see you there!

>> Learn more and register

Teaching About the Human Impact of Natural Disasters

In response to the terrible impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has made 3 chapters of their 2010 bulletin, The Human Impact of Natural Disasters:  Issues for the Inquiry-Based Classroom publicly available at the request of the editors.  The book contains essays by scholars and practitioners about a range of topics concerning natural disasters and their consequences, and how social studies educators can address them in their daily practice. The bulletin has a prominent emphasis on human rights issues, and includes lesson suggestions as well as a comprehensive bibliography.

>> Access the free chapters 
>> Full text for NCSS members

John Brown Day Celebration and Anti-Racism Symposium

EVENT DETAILS:
When: Saturday October 14, 2017
Where: Woodstock Union High School  Woodstock, Vermont
Cost: $10-20 sliding-scale registration fee includes breakfast

On 5 May of this year, the Vermont legislature adopted a concurrent resolution “designating October 16, 2017 as John Brown Day in Vermont.” To commemorate the day, the Woodstock Social Justice Initiative is hosting a Brown celebration and anti-racism event in Woodstock, Vermont on the October 14th aimed at empowering community members with the understanding and tools needed to take action against racism. Several renowned experts on Brown, abolitionism and anti-abolitionism in Vermont and New Hampshire will be presenting, as will local educators who will demonstrate how they teach about Brown and other controversial figures.

Continuing education credits will be available.

>> Learn more
>> Register for event

CHILDREN CAN BE HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS, TOO!

By Ellen V. Moore

In 1987, while I was co-director of Amnesty International USA’s Urgent Action Program, I began the monthly AIKids’ Urgent Action Program for youngsters ages 9-14 years old. For decades, our UA Office in Nederland, Colorado sent out casesheets to teachers, parents, scout troops, Sunday Schools, individual young people often about youngsters facing human rights abuses in Africa, South and Central America, in Europe, the United States and the Middle East.

Sometimes a casesheet would lay out details of the arrest of a union activist and his children who were with him at a rally.  Sometimes Amnesty was asking for letters to a government official who, with the stroke of a pen, could ensure the release of a medical rights pediatrician in Pakistan who was being threatened along with her family members, for speaking out at demonstrations about the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights article defining basic medical care as a basic human right.

I shared the AIKids’ Urgent Action with my UA colleagues in London and AI United Kingdom almost immediately began its own effort at youth letter-writing, The Junior Urgent Action.  Shortly, AICanada’s Urgent Action Program Director Marilyn McKim began the LifeSaver geared for students from 4th to ninth grades.  Every year, another AI Section either began using the AIKids’ UAs or the youth casesheets from Canada or the United Kingdom, and throughout Central and Latin America AI Sections began using the Spanish language casesheets produced by a Spanish language teacher in Colorado, Maya Meis.

There has always been debate, in education in general and among Amnesty International human rights educators about when and if to introduce students to human rights issues and especially to human rights abuses worldwide.  As I reviewed copies of children’s letter sent to me over many decades from teachers, parents, scout leaders, and young students themselves, I became convinced that in many, even most, instances young letter writers were profoundly empowered by advocacy letter-writing because “doing something” about human rights appears to have empowered the young writers to “Speak truth to power.”

Hundreds of letters written by children using the AIKids’ Urgent Action casesheets are now part of the AIUSA Archives at Columbia University’s Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research which preserves the papers of a dozen human rights organizations and many dozen individual human rights activists worldwide but especially from the United States.

Though AIUSA no longer produces the monthly AIKids’ Urgent Actions, it is of huge comfort to me that both AI Canada and AI United Kingdom continue their monthly letter-writing programs for students with all this implies about students learning that they need not passively learn of human rights abuses daily on the web and on television or in film but they too can take action to speak out to persons in authority urging a halt to unacceptable government collusion in internationally-condemned behaviors against minorities, women, the elderly, children, ethnic groups and refugees.

As part of the international AI Write for Rights December Celebration of the UDHR, there will be and has always been, a case specially written for young letter-writers.  This casesheet is not only for young writers, but new English speakers, persons in literacy classes, families who want to write together to honor the December 10, 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Celebrate the UDHR in your home or your classroom, your school or church by letter-writing with a youngster.  Better to light a candle, than curse the darkness; “Write a letter, change a life.”

Ellen V. Moore worked at Amnesty International for over 30 years as the Urgent Action Program Coordinator and has also served on the Board of Directors at Amnesty International USA.