BHS Students Receive Valuable Lesson on Bias

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For many years, the Bethpage School District has incorporated anti-bullying programs, which focus on tolerance, diversity, and acceptance into its daily curriculum. Programs such as “The Power of One” have raised awareness and provided elementary school students with the skills needed to respect others and combat bullying.

At JFK Middle School, the Second Step program was instituted for the 2011-2012 school year. The program is designed to teach students how to positively navigate their way through a number of different risky behaviors, such as bullying, aggression, and substance abuse, and how to improve academic success through skills emphasized in the classroom.

Most recently, student participants in the 21st Century Scholars program at Bethpage High School, advised by foreign language teacher Jacqueline Jill-Rito, viewed a video entitled
“Hate – Crossing the Line.”  The video was produced in 2009 by the Nassau County Police Department and is used as a “peer to peer” learning model.

Following the video, guest speakers spoke to the students about bias, bullying, and teasing. The speakers included Lieutenant Gary Shapiro, Bias Crimes Coordinator for the Nassau County Police Department, Officer Mike Cario of the 8th Precinct, and Joselo Lucero, brother of Marcelo Lucero, a deceased victim of a hate crime in Patchogue.

“Little things like teasing can lead to bigger things. It starts with a comment, and then it becomes energized,” said Lt. Shapiro.

The BHS students were urged by Lt. Shapiro to speak about the video with their younger peers and to become role models, leading by example.