SALEM – Communities need to talk about bullying and racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic incidents when not only identifying the problem, but also learning ways to solve it, a panel of experts concluded hosted by US Representative Seth Moulton, D-Salem. Wednesday evening.
“The theme here seems to be that we need to have more conversations,” Moulton said, before indirectly referring to one of the reasons for the session: the recent revelations that members of the school’s hockey team Secondary Danvers engaged in repeated hazing involving forcing other team members to use racist slurs or being beaten with a sex toy, and to remove their clothes and underwear while they were having sex. called “Gay Tuesdays”.
“What is the right balance between communicating with the community and being aware that this sometimes favors imitators or that there is a need to protect privacy? Moulton asked.
“We struggle with this all the time,” said Robert Trestan, New England regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. “Do you really want to give a public platform to someone who has committed an act of hate?” I actually think it’s much more important to be transparent. If you are a parent or have a child in your life and that child goes to school … if there is an act of hatred, an assault, anything that will have an impact on safety, physical health or mental of my child, I want to know. I think transparency trumps these other considerations.
And with kids spending a lot of their lives on social media, “a coach in 2022 doesn’t need to be just up to date with what’s going on on the ice,” he said. Coaches, teachers, administrators all also “need to know if they are communicating on an application or on social networks”.
While a full press release isn’t always the way to tackle every incident, Trestan said, given the pervasiveness of social media, “if a school isn’t communicating, you can be sure someone has. some idea of what happened and they’re ‘going to put it there … someone else is checking the narrative.’
“If we’re transparent, it gives parents, guardians, mentors, coaches a chance to talk about it,” said Faustina Cuevas, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager for the Town of Lynn. “What are we going to do when we see him?” “
Dan Lebowitz, executive director of the Center for Sport in Society at Northeastern University, said it was essential to create what he calls “empowered spectators” who know how to react when they see such incidents.
“Usually when you’re on a sports team (involved in hazing) or in a crowd, you lose your sense of responsibility,” Lebowitz said. “You are in a circle saying ‘fight, fight, fight’ … a child, usually, at this point, is frozen.”
Lebowitz said he recommends and teaches “to give people a skill set, a toolkit, so that they have the skills to step in and deflect this situation.”
“I think it starts with practice,” said Deb Ansourlian, executive director of Girls Inc. of Lynn. “We cannot assume that they already know how to react in these situations.” Another aspect is training staff to look for signs of bullying or hazing, she said.
Cuevas said getting involved isn’t always easy for people.
“I think we need to make them more comfortable speaking out in the face of injustice,” Cuevas said. “We have this mentality of ‘I’m just going to mind my own business.’ We can no longer afford to do this.
Cuevas said adults also need to be able to encourage young people to feel comfortable coming forward. “They may not feel equipped to stop an incident or fix it on their own, but if they have a trusted adult they can come up and say, ‘Hey, I witnessed this.’ , it’s a beginning.
“Dialogue and conversation are part of prevention and the healing that follows,” Trestan said. “It’s really giving young people, in middle school, in high school, knowledge, a certain confidence, a certain strengthening of skills, so that we do not suffer, as Faustina (Cuevas) said, the repercussions of not to respond. We need to make sure that leaders, especially in schools right now, respond. “
Lebowitz said adults need to take a break and look at the world through the eyes of young people, especially those who, for example, might be the only person of color on a team. “How does the world come to them?” “
Court reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis