Introducing NIOS Bullying Prevention Resources in Spanish

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INTRODUCING NIOS BULLYING PREVENTION RESOURCES IN SPANISH

Republished from NIOT.org

Not In Our School (NIOS) is excited to publish this three-part series of three blogs about bullying in English and Spanish. In this first blog, we give an overview of bullying and share new NIOS Spanish materials. In the second blog, we share important information and useful resources on bullying from Spanish speaking countries. Finally, in our third series, we share the work of a Mexican anti-bullying activist.

Este blog también está disponible en español.

A student taking part in a NIOS workshop in Nicaragua
According to the 2012 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, Spanish is the most widely understood language in the Western Hemisphere, with significant populations of native Spanish speakers ranging from the southern tip of Patagonia to as far north as Canada. And in the United States, Spanish is the primary language spoken at home by 38.3 million people aged five or older, a figure more than double that of 1990. So, it is important to share NIOS films and lesson guides with the Spanish speaking world.

At a recent workshop, a principal shared a horrific story of a little 8-year-old girl who was bullied for being different. In this case, she was different because her family was not poor like the families of her classmates. So, they teased her every day. They threw things at her and pushed her. Although she did not tell anyone about what was happening to her, one day she took her parents’ gun out. Her plan was to take it to school and shoot the classmates who were tormenting her. Her parents discovered it and took the gun away, but her peers found out. That day they pelted her with stones and rocks until she had to be taken to the hospital, beaten and bloody.

This took place in a small rainforest village in the region around Rio San Juan, in Nicaragua. Recently, I had the privilege of giving two NIOS bullying prevention presentations there, one to students and another to educators. Although some of the participating schools were one-room schoolhouses, miles from the next town, both the youth and educators who attended were very familiar with bullying behaviors and were seeking solutions.

The kind of bullying that happened to this 8-year-old girl is not unlike some of the torments that happen to children everywhere. The girl’s peers claimed the reason they did it was that she was “stuck up.” Every day, children explain their cruel behavior with similar comments, like actor Christian Bale, bullied in England as a child because he was an actor; Rihanna from Barbados, bullied for her skin color and breasts; or a fifth grader in a California school where I worked as a principal, who nonchalantly told me he bullied a younger child simply because he had been bullied.

In Russia, like Nicaragua, the English word “bullying” is now being used because there is no fully comparable term. I wondered about other languages. After searching, I found a forum discussion about the word for “bully” in other languages. Different forum contributors indicated that Arabic, German, Hebrew, and French do not have exact translations for a specific word that means bullying. That caused the forum conversation participants to ponder if bullying was an American phenomenon and whether the US is making a word become a reality. The story of the Nicaraguan 8-year-old should put that theory to rest.

NIOS Director Becki Cohn-Vargas leads a workshop in Nicaragua
I believe that forms of bullying and intolerance have been around since the beginning of time. The difference now is that people across the world are recognizing it and doing something about it. With the little Nicaraguan girl, the school has gotten involved to not only help the girl and her family (who did end up changing schools), but also to work with her elementary peers.

Not In Our School is reaching out across the globe to share stories and materials in places like Hungary, Australia, Slovakia, and most recently in South Africa. We believe that this effort brings us together to make a difference and strengthens the work we are all doing. Do you have an international story? Please share it. It brings out the humanity in all of us.

As a way to share our materials with Spanish speaking countries and hispanic populations within the US, Not In Our School is now pleased to be translating our most popular films and lesson plans into Spanish. You can find our growing list of Spanish resources by clicking here.

NIOS thanks Vivianne Hiriart for her generous help doing these excellent translations pro bono.

NIOS PRESENTA SUS NUEVOS MATERIALES EN ESPAÑOL
No en Nuestra Escuela (NIOS) se complace en publicar esta serie de tres partes conformada por tres blogs sobre bullying en inglés y en español. En el primer blog damos una visión general sobre el bullying y compartimos nuevos materiales de NIOS en español. En el segundo blog, compartimos información importante y recursos útiles sobre bullying de países de habla hispana. Finalmente, en nuestra tercera serie, compartimos el trabajo contra el bullying de una activista mexicana.

De acuerdo con la Encuesta de la Comunidad Americana de 2012, llevada a cabo por el departamento de Censos de Estados Unidos, el español es la lengua más ampliamente entendida en el hemisferio occidental. Las comunidades de hispanoparlantes se extienden desde la punta más austral en la Patagonia hasta el extremo norte en Canadá. En los Estados Unidos 38.3 millones de personas mayores de 5 años hablan español como lengua principal en sus hogares; más del doble de las que había en 1990. Por eso es importante compartir los videos y actividades de NIOS con el mundo hispanohablante.

En un taller reciente, la directora de una escuela compartió la historia espeluznante de una niña de 8 años que fue víctima de bullying por ser diferente. En este caso, ella era diferente porque su familia no era pobre como lo eran las del resto de sus compañeros. Así que la molestaban todos los días. Le arrojaban cosas y la empujaban. Aunque no le dijo a nadie lo que le estaba pasando, un día tomó la pistola de sus padres. Su plan era llevarla a la escuela y dispararle a los compañeros que la atormentaban. Sus papás la descubrieron y le quitaron la pistola, pero sus compañeros se enteraron. Ese día la bombardearon con piedras y rocas hasta que tuvieron que llevarla al hospital, golpeada y ensangrentada.

Esto sucedió en un pequeño pueblo en la selva en una región cercana a Río San Juan, en Nicaragua. Recientemente tuve el privilegio de dar dos presentaciones sobre prevención de bullying en ese pueblo, una con estudiantes y la otra con docentes. Aunque algunas de las escuelas participantes se encontraban a millas de distancia del siguiente pueblo y contaban sólo con un salón de clases, tanto los jóvenes como los docentes conocían bien el bullying y estaban buscando soluciones.

El tipo de bullying que vivió esta niña de 8 años no es diferente a algunos tormentos que viven otros niños en muchas partes. Los compañeros de esta niña de 8 años afirmaban que habían actuado así porque ella era “estirada”. Todos los días los niños explican sus comportamientos crueles con afirmaciones similares, como el actor Christian Bale, quien fue víctima de bullying durante su niñez en Inglaterra por ser actor; Rhiannon, de Barbados, a quien molestaban por su color de piel y sus pechos o como un alumno de 5º grado en una escuela en California donde trabajé como directora, quien con total indiferencia me dijo que molestaba a un niño menor simplemente porque él había sido víctima de bullying.

En Rusia como en Nicaragua se utiliza la palabra inglesa “bullying” porque no existe un término que describa su significado de la misma manera. Me pregunté qué sucedía con otros idiomas. Tras buscar, encontré un foro de discusión sobre el equivalente de la palabra “bully[VH1] ” en otros idiomas. Diferentes participantes del foro indicaron que en árabe, alemán, hebreo y francés no existe un término que describa de manera exacta lo que significa bullying. Esto llevó a los participantes a plantearse si el bullying era un fenómeno estadunidense y si acaso Estados Unidos está haciendo que la palabra se transforme en una realidad. La historia de la niña nicaragüense de 8 años rebate esa teoría.

Creo que desde el inicio de los tiempos han existido formas de bullying e intolerancia. La diferencia es que ahora alrededor del mundo hay gente que lo está reconociendo y haciendo algo al respecto. Con la pequeña nicaragüense de 8 años, la escuela se involucró no sólo ayudando a la niña y su familia (quien finalmente se cambió de escuela), si no también trabajando con sus compañeros de la misma edad.

No en Nuestra Escuela (NIOS) está extendiendo sus contactos alrededor del mundo para compartir historias y materiales en lugares como Hungría, Australia, Eslovaquia, y más recientemente en Sudáfrica. Creemos que este esfuerzo nos une para hacer la diferencia y fortalece el trabajo que todos estamos haciendo. ¿Tienes alguna historia internacional? Por favor compártela. Sacan el lado humano en cada uno de nosotros.

No En Nuestra Escuela se complace a anunciar que se han empezado a traducir nuestras películas y lecciones más popularoes a español. Pulse aquí para encontrar la lista de recursos que se ofrecen en español.

Mil gracias a Vivianne Hiriart por traducir este serie sin cobrar para Not In Our Town.

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Pride of El Castillo

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PRIDE OF EL CASTILLO
By Dr. Becki Cohn-Vargas, Not In Our School Director

Upstanders come in many forms. We hear about those who lead movements for social justice, but rarely do we hear about the people who quietly live their lives and stand up just by the fortitude they show in staying the course against great odds. Yamil Obregón Bustos is one such person. I heard about him when I was traveling in Nicaragua.

Pride of El Castillo
Yamil Obregón Bustos
Yamil owns Border’s Coffee, a small cafe and restaurant in El Castillo, a beautiful town along the San Juan River in Nicaragua. El Castillo is a bucolic town with no cars and a historic fortress that draws people from around the world. I heard that Lonely Planet had visited his cafe, calling it the best coffee in the region. They also had written a piece, “El Castillo’s Dirty Little Secret,” referencing the harassment that Yamil experienced as a result of being the only openly gay person in his small town. Yamil has not only been subjected to hateful anti-gay slurs and threats, but also attempts to shut down his business.

I went to the cafe and had a delicious meal and some great coffee prepared by Yamil himself. Then I asked if I could interview him to share his story with our NIOT readers. What struck me the most was that he chose to live and run a business in the town of his birth in spite of the rampant homophobia. He could easily have ventured into a larger city where he would not be so visible and vulnerable.

Lonely Planet publicized his plight and also drew people to his El Castillo cafe in the historic Nicaraguan town. I titled this piece “Pride of El Castillo” in honor of his courage. Listen to him in his own words.

And if you’re ever in Nicaragua, make sure to check out his restaurant.

A Middle School GSA: A Refuge Amidst the Swirl of Fitting In

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On the Day of Silence, we share with you the story of one middle school that provided the space for all of its students to have their voices heard. 

“Forming a Gay Straight Alliance at a middle school requires courage—for the administrator to step up, for the teacher who serves as the advisor, and for each student who walks through that door to be a member.”

By Dr. Becki Cohn-Vargas, Not In Our School Director

Becki Cohn-VargasMy daughter knew she was gay from when she was a young girl, but it wasn’t until middle school that she told me. Not all young people have someone to talk to at that sensitive age.

At Hoover Middle School in the San Francisco Unified School District, teacher Janet Miller learned frightening statistics about her district’s Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) students at a district training. She discovered that transgender youth were the most likely students to attempt suicide. Impassioned, Janet explains that she got on a table and shouted to the staff, “It’s our job and the job of every single person in this room to enforce safety for all students, not just straight ones, so any time you are not doing it, you are not doing your job!”  She convinced the staff that Hoover needed to do something about this serious issue.

Some educators feel middle school students are too young join a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA). Hoover principal Thomas Graven admitted he had never had a GSA at any of the middle schools where he had worked.

“When she proposed that we do so, I was very supportive of it, but I was also a little bit anxious about it because middle school is a time of great difficulty for kids with the transition into adolescence,” Graven said.

One of the first things they did was invite their own LGBTQ students to speak to the school staff. Teachers listened as students shared with great candor the painful experiences of being teased and harassed and the sad reality that when they approached their teachers, little was done.

With the principal’s support, Miller and students created the GSA, one of the first at a San Francisco middle school. The short film, “A Gay Straight Alliance Creates Unity and a Culture of Acceptance,” tells the story of how the student club not only impacted its members, but the entire school and staff at Hoover. Watch their story:

GSAs at middle schools are still a relatively rare phenomenon. At the Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota, the path to starting middle school GSAs was a painful one.

Until March 2012, Anoka-Hennepin District policy stated that “…staff, in the course of their professional duties, shall remain neutral on matters regarding sexual orientation including but not limited to student-led discussions.” The policy rendered Anoka-Hennepin teachers uncertain and afraid, so they stayed silent. The result meant that endemic anti-gay slurs and bullying of LGBTQ students were ignored, often with horrific results.

A string of nine local suicides over a two-year period included four students who were gay or perceived to be gay. One 15-year-old, who committed suicide after having been bullied for being perceived as gay had complained to her mother that classmates had started an “I Hate July Barrick” Facebook page. Anoka-Hennepin students described the daily harassment. Seeing this “neutrality” policy as a virtual gag order, students were left to fend for themselves in a toxic environment and filed a lawsuit last summer, stating that the District did not sufficiently protect LGBTQ students.

In October 2011, Anderson Cooper interviewed the student plaintiffs and in February 2012, a powerful Rolling Stone article put this district’s issues into the national spotlight. In March 2012, the district rescinded the policy andsettled with the students.

GSAOne result of the ongoing controversy in Anoka-Hennepin was that this year, for the first time, students initiated a GSA in every middle school in the district. When describing what the GSA meant to one student, he said, “In sixth grade, my only friend here committed suicide. . . . She was the one who reached out to me.. . . I joined the GSA ’cause I wanted to be just like her. I wanted to be nice and—loved.”

A GSA can give a voice and refuge to middle school students at a very important period of their lives. With opportunities for allies to become members, LGBTQ students come to feel they are not alone and that their friends will stand with them. This can send a message of acceptance across the entire school, not only those questioning their sexual orientation, but also those who don’t fit in the gender stereotypes or who might not fit in for other reasons.

Forming a GSA at a middle school requires courage—for the administrator to step up, for the teacher who serves as the advisor, and for each student who walks through that door to be a member. For many students, a GSA can be a lifeline and make a difference for young people that will last for the rest of their lives.

Visit the video page and find a link to the short film on Teacher Tube

Reprinted from NIOT.org  http://www.niot.org/blog/middle-school-gsa-refuge-amidst-swirl-fitting

View the video here:http://www.niot.org/nios-video/gay-straight-alliance-creates-unity-and-culture-acceptance-0