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Boston Public Schools Implements the Second Annual 24/7 Respect Program
Initiative Educates Students to Prevent and Address Bias-based Behavior
Today, the Boston Public Schools (BPS) launched the second annual 24/7 Respect program at an event at the Trotter K-8 School in Dorchester. The 24/7 Respect program is aimed at teaching students the importance of treating everyone with respect whether it’s in-person or online.
Throughout the week of March 9, all Boston Public Schools sixth-grade students will participate in the groundbreaking 24/7 Respect program to learn about their rights and responsibilities in preventing and addressing bias-based and sexual misconduct, whether in person, through text, or on social media.
Students will learn how to engage in inclusive and thoughtful interactions with their peers, reinforcing how young people can communicate in ways that are supportive and affirming.
“To cultivate high-quality schools, we must ensure every child is cherished and affirmed for who they are by educators and by their peers,” said BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. “The 24/7 Respect program is an essential tool to ensure that happens. I am appreciative of our Office of Equity for developing this program and so proud of our amazing student actors for the leadership they demonstrate by helping to educate their peers.”
The innovative 24/7 Respect program introduces two new videos, one in English and one in Spanish, featuring student actors who attend Boston Arts Academy. In addition, the 24/7 Respect video is accessible in all BPS district languages and the top ten languages in the United States. Recognized by the Novo Foundation and Teaching Tolerance as a national model for anti-bias education, the program will be replicated at schools across the country in the coming year.
Students will learn and be able to use the 24/7 Respect vocabulary. Then students will watch the 24/7 Respect video and participate in an in-depth classroom discussion about how to support peers from all identities and backgrounds, and how to report any harmful behavior that does occur. The video presents four realistic scenarios detailing how sending offensive or explicit comments or images -- even outside of school -- can impact students’ education. Even if it occurs off school property or outside school hours, such conduct is prohibited when it impacts the learning or work environment.
“The School Committee is committed to maintaining strong policies that support the Boston Public Schools in efforts to prevent bias-based incidents from happening, both in our schools and while students are not in our care,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael Loconto. “We are proud that the 24/7 Respect program has been recognized as a national model to engage students in that shared goal."
Educators are provided with a 24/7 Respect Resource Toolkit, video guide, and guidance from the Office of English Learners and the Office of Special Education on how to make sure the lesson plan is accessible and engaging for all students. In addition, piloting school districts nationwide are provided an implementation guide that assists with the logistical set-up and implementation of the program. Professional development resources are also available for educators on the 24/7 Respect webpage.
The Boston Teachers Union (BTU) is co-sponsoring the 24/7 Respect program. “Our talented, inclusive educators are excited to bring this program to all sixth graders this year,” said BTU President Jessica Tang. “On a daily basis, BPS teachers are vital partners in preventing and addressing bias, and the BTU is proud to partner with BPS on this important initiative.”
The BPS Office of Equity has comprehensive policies and protocols that are applied consistently to reported incidents, and administrators, teachers, and all other employees are required to report any such conduct if it impacts a student. There are multiple ways to report possible policy violations, including through the Office of Equity website or the Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC) web-based app, bostonstudentrights.org.
Boston Arts Academy senior Jada Saint Louis is one of the actors featured in the new 24/7 Respect video. “Students deal with situations like the ones we acted out in the 24/7 Respect video on a regular basis, but they feel alone and don’t speak up because they lack information,” said Ms. Saint Louis. “I’ve learned so much by being a part of this project. By discussing this video, students can learn how to problem-solve, and get support from adult allies.”
The 24/7 Respect program has been endorsed by the American Association for Access, Equity, and Diversity; Anti-Defamation League of New England; Massachusetts chapter of the American Federation of Teachers; Boston Student Advisory Council; City of Boston Women’s Advancement Office; Greater Boston Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gay Men; Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents; Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association; Massachusetts School Administrators’ Association; Massachusetts School Counselors Association; Mothers for Justice and Equality; Novo Foundation; Sociedad Latina; Teaching Tolerance; and Youth on Board.