How would you handle this? (Anti-Semetism situation)

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Jerseygirlteach, Jan 5, 2011.

  1. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    Jan 5, 2011

    Some background first. I live and work in a town with a small to almost non-existent Jewish population. I, however, am a transplant from somewhere else and happen to be Jewish. Most people in my area are surprised to learn that I'm Jewish because 1) I'm not observant and don't practice the religion that I was born into, 2) I'm married to a Catholic man and don't have a "Jewish" sounding last name, 3) I don't look like any Jewish stereotypes, and 4) really no one else is Jewish around here so people tend to make assumptions that no one around here is.

    So, a few weeks ago, I heard one of my students tell another one that some other students called her a "Jewbag." I was shocked but they told me that kids say things like that all the time - "You Jew" and similar remarks. I told them that I happen to be Jewish and being a "Jew" is not something bad. But, that's not the only reason I'm offended. If they were using any religion, nationality, or race as an insult then I would find that very offensive. After that, I tried to put it in the back of my mind since I really didn't know what else I should or could do about it.

    However, today, one of my students said that the others were still calling each other "Jewbag." Note, that I don't think this particular student cared; I think she just wanted to see my reaction. They then proceeded to tell me about the essay of another of my students for an English assignment. Apparently he was supposed to write about a character and he chose to write about a "Jew with spit curls" who walks around New York City picking up coins off the street for money. He just giggled guiltily while they were telling me about this.

    I can't deny it. I'm extremely offended by this. I didn't let them see it and, truthfully, they're just adolescent kids. I don't think they really realize what they're saying. And it's not like they're directing their remarks at anyone. I doubt they really think less of me because they know I'm Jewish (although I could be wrong.) So, no one is really being bullied or harrassed.

    I'm just curious as to what you would do. I thought about asking my principal if any action should be taken but I don't want to look like some oversensitive person. If it were a race or religion that was not my own, I wouldn't hesitate but in this case I'm afraid I'll look like a complainer for nothing. And if any student was been attacked for his race or religion, believe me, I'd act on this but, to my knowledge, no one is.

    What would you do?
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jan 5, 2011

    I would let my principal know what the students were saying and then I would discuss this with the parents of the students involved.

    Do not feel bad that it is your religion. If the students went to another city and then said these same things, something bad could happen. The students need to learn that some language is not appropriate.
     
  4. gigi

    gigi Groupie

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    Jan 5, 2011

    I agree this needs to be addressed Jerseygirl, a quick talk with a guidance counselor or P would be a good idea.
     
  5. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Jan 5, 2011

    I would deal with it harshly. There is no excuse. They know right from wrong, and they know using these terms are racist and hateful. The fact that they did it intentionally, after they were called out on it is even worse.

    Now, when I say harshly, I don't mean hysterically. I would very calmly and rationally deal out the harshest punishment my school would allow. In my old school that would be suspension. I would do it without batting an eye. I don't tolerate hate speech of any kind, toward any group, for any reason.
     
  6. pete2770

    pete2770 Comrade

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    Jan 5, 2011

    I concur with the others. It's definitely a popular way to be derogatory in rural communities. I don't know why.

    Too much South Park and a lot of comedians (Jewish and non-Jewish) have made it no big deal in their minds, when it should be. To them it's just a mindless joke, I guarantee if they knew how offended it actually made you they'd shape right up.

    Good luck.
     
  7. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Jan 5, 2011

    When I was still subbing, I was handed a paper filled with swastikas. The student happily asked me, "You're a Jew, so that bothers you, right?" I wrote up the incident and nothing was done by administration. I didn't follow up, either. It took him continuing the verbal abuse against two fellow students (one lesbian, one black) before one of the school aides yanked him out of classroom.

    I say do something about it so the students know it is inappropriate. Otherwise, the next recipient of abuse may be child who doesn't have the inner strength you do. Speaking up and following through may protect someone else.
     
  8. teachin4ever

    teachin4ever Cohort

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    Jan 5, 2011

    I agree that this deserves a pretty big punishment.

    I had a student a few months ago call another student - with me standing right by him - slant eyes (she's half Korean). I asked him to leave the room, made sure the student who was called that was okay, and had a loooong and very firm talk with the young man before walking him up to the principal's office.

    He ended up getting a one day in school suspension.
     
  9. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Jan 5, 2011

    Neither does the law, and I would also point this out.
     
  10. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jan 5, 2011

    I agree with mmswm. I would let them know that their words and actions are offensive, inappropriate and hateful.
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jan 5, 2011

    As someone who ISN'T Jewish, I'm deeply offended. And I think I WOULD have let them see it, big time.

    Kids need to know right from wrong. They won't learn to differentiate the two if we don't call them on it when they're wrong. Whether it's your religion or not isn't the issue. They need to hear the message, loud and clear, that what they're doing is WRONG. There are moral absolutes, and this is one of them.
     
  12. Chalk

    Chalk Companion

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    Jan 6, 2011

    I think everyone has made the point fairly clear.

    I hope to pose a question.

    What does one hope to accomplish my punishing a child for "hate speech"?

    Is the intention to change their point of view? Would punishment change the point of view or would the child react with greater hate?

    Case in point, I am the diversity guy at our school because I wanted to be. I hold special workshops and teach diversity and cultural respect as an underlining theme.

    I notice two things from teachers and admins who have punished students for "hate speech" . First is the reaction of "X is punishing me so F-U X and your whole X" Or in this context one might find it as "That stupid Jew got me in trouble, F*** the Jew... (expletive tirade). The second thing I find is that students become sullen and no discourse about other cultures can take place because some students will feel that if they give an honest opinion, (especially if they have been raised to hate some group for some reason) they fear punishment and feel alienated because of what mommy and daddy and the media have instilled in them.

    Right and wrong and morals are all a matter of point of view of the individual and collective agreement on what is right and what is wrong is based solely on the whim of the society at a given point in history. At one point it was "morally right" for roman men to have sex with boys, It was "Morally and religiously right" for whites to own blacks in the south in early 1800's

    In my experience, If you want to change someone, or at least get them on the path to change their solipsism about a culture or racial group you have to acknowledge the value of their feelings and then challenge them gently to justify them. This leads to self examination which in turn leads to cultural exploration and with a time and patience, empathy will follow. I have used this formula with great success, to the point of having children of ardent Klansmen begin to rethink the way they where taught and the reasons for their hate. Of course the parents were not to happy, but....

    I suggest you refrain from punishment and try to challenge them to justify their stereotypes by asking them well structured questions designed to make them think a little deeper.
    Either way Good luck
     
  13. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Jan 6, 2011

    Uhh.... actually the law in the US certainly tolerates "hate speech". You literally can say you don't like any ethnic group for any particular traits, real or imagined. The Westboro Baptist church uses this all the time.

    In schools there are some special rules allowing teachers to override this normal presumption that students have free speech.

    Of course, in an employment situation (among others) there might be specific ramifications to such speech that would make one liable. Also, in certain criminal situations such speech could make the penalty worse.
     

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