Fixing the Problem

January 11, 2018

Harassment in the school system is an issue that can, and must, be addressed. One possible solution is the Green Dot Program created by Dr. Dorothy Edwards, founder and president of Alteristic, and the mother of a Dunbar alum. This program trains bystanders to be “Green Dots” and to divert victims from the situation, eliminating the possibility of an assault or worse.

“If [a bystander] sees someone being harassed, whether it be based on race, sexual orientation, or gender, Green Dot trains students to use redirection. Bystanders are instructed not talk to the harasser, but talk to the person being harassed,” said Dunbar English Teacher Mrs. Wendy Turner. “It de-escalates the situation, and it gets the victim out of harm’s way.”

In the case of the anonymous student, girls laughing at the harassment could have surrounded the student being harassed, removing her from the situation without even needing to address the harasser. This is what Green Dot trains bystanders to do.

Mrs. Turner and behavior specialist Mrs. Erin Adcock are currently working on securing grant money from Partners for Youth to implement Green Dot at Dunbar next year. More information about the high school curriculum for Green dot can be found here.

Teachers and students all agreed that there is a need for this type of targeted education. Schools can help alleviate these issues by implementing more programs like Green Dot, by allowing more training for both teachers and students, and by focusing on not only academics, but also curriculum that focuses on character education.

Mr. Mau said “If you are a confident person and are confident in who you are and are secure with yourself, then there’s no reason for you to act in a monstrous way to get someone’s attention. When people with low self-esteem get together, they bolster one another in order to [promote] that group hate, and so you know you’re going to get supported.”

If we’re going to change the culture, it needs to start early, and it needs to be authentic, real-world training, not just some PowerPoint or hokey presentation,” said a student who asked to remain anonymous.

“We have to address this and stop pretending that it doesn’t happen here at Dunbar. It does. It happens everywhere.”

Contributing writers to this story include Julia Radhakrishnan, Rebecca Chapman, Peyton Humphreys, Hannah Chambliss and Abigail Wheatley.

*The Lamplighter’s policy on anonymous sources can be found here.

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