Standing Beside Those Who Have No One Else to Lean Against

by
Abby Zimet

Maine's tireless and newly renamed Center for Preventing Hate will
celebrate its 10th anniversary Thursday night with ""Fearless," a series
of exhibits showing how Maine youth have worked to create safe,
respectful high schools. Born when Maine was seeing an influx of Somali,
Sudanese and other newcomers - and when statistics showed over half the
state's hate crimes were committed by white teenage boys - the Center
evolved from Civil Rights Teams in 18 schools. Today, over 200 schools
and 75,000 students take part in projects that have seen violence,
verbal harassment and even truancy drop dramatically - in the case of
verbal threats, 81%. More here.

"We're asking kids to do things that are against, from their
perspective, their immediate self-interest. We're not just asking them
to stop saying degrading language; we're asking them to speak up for
somebody else. And they're willing to do it much more easily than
adults." - Steve Wessler, former AG and head of the Center.

An "Erase Hate" project in Portland

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