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Take the Pledge to Stop Hate

Hate comes from fear and ignorance, according to authors Caryl Stern-Larosa and Ellen Hofheimer Bettmann. In their book Hate Hurts: How Children Learn and Unlearn Prejudice, the authors say that people are not born hating others. Instead, people learn to hate from many places: parents, peers, and daily events. Whatever the reason for hate, people can change their behavior and their biases.

This book explores where hate comes from and how each of us can take steps to unlearn hate. Without even knowing it, you could be hurting others with your behavior.

How many times have you told a joke that might be considered inappropriate? When we tell jokes, do we think of the hurt that joke might cause someone else? What if you were the object of one of those jokes? Realizing that something as simple as a joke can hurt someone is one of the first steps in learning to undo hatred.

Jokes are not the only way we can hurt others. Name calling is a common cause of distress for most kids. How does it make you feel when you call someone else a name? Think how you would feel if you were called by that name. Many words in our language indicate bias against a group or person. Do the words you use truly reflect how you feel?

In their book, Stern-Larosa and Bettmann offer ways to unlearn prejudicial behavior. One suggestion is to take the following pledge:

  • I pledge from this day onward to do my best to interrupt prejudice and to stop those who, because of hate, would hurt, harass, or violate the civil rights of anyone.
  • I will try at all times to be aware of my own biases against people who are different from myself.
  • I will ask questions about cultures, religions, and races that I don't understand.
  • I will speak out against anyone who mocks, seeks to intimidate, or actually hurts someone of a different race, religion, ethnic group, or sexual orientation.
  • I will reach out to support those who are targets of harassment.
  • I will think about specific ways my school, other students, and my community can promote respect for people and create a prejudice-free zone.
  • I firmly believe that one person can make a difference and that no person can be an "innocent bystander" when it comes to opposing hate.

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