CLIMATE OF RESPECT
What our Safer Tomorrow looks like
Respect. Everyone has it for everyone else – no matter how much money they have, the color of their skin, their country of origin, their level of education, their religion, their age, their physical and mental capabilities or their sexual orientation. Everyone is just as important as everyone else and is deserving of respect. We honor our differences.
How we are getting there
Respectful communities are environments where all people feel safe, supported and engaged. A sustainable, positive climate of respect fosters youth development and the learning environments necessary for a healthy and productive life in society. In such a climate,
- People are respected
- Students, families, educators and civic leaders work together to develop and contribute to a shared community vision.
- Educators model and nurture an attitude that emphasizes the benefits and satisfaction of learning in a safe environment.
- Each person contributes to a safer community and the care of a safer physical environment.
Four Crucial Goals
Creating a climate of respect focuses on four central overlapping goals that foster respect in the home and elsewhere.
Goal 1: Fostering Communication
In respectful climates, everyone‘s voice is recognized and appreciated. Unfortunately, what we primarily focus on today is academic, athletic and social competition and success. As important as these are, they do not recognize the varied talents of our kids and represent one reason why so many children feel unheard and disrespected.
Goal 2: Supporting Our Kids
Being supported means that adults appreciate those areas that challenge or frustrate our kids. Asking questions such as, “What is one thing about your relationship with your friends that you would change?” or “What should your teachers do to better support your needs at school?” acknowledges children’s voices and can have a profound and positive effect.
Goal 3: Ensuring Safe Communities
Perhaps the most pervasive unmet need in society is for children to feel socially, emotionally, intellectually and physically safe. Feeling unsafe is one of the most important forces that undermine psychological and emotional development. To promote safer environments, we must all help each other to become up-standers—that is, people who notice and respond in socially responsible ways to cruel, mean, or violent behavior. Too often bystanders witness abusive or violent behavior and stand by doing nothing. Up-standers can stop violence by simply letting abusers know that their behavior is never acceptable and usually makes matters worse.
Goal 4: Promoting Engagement
Today, many kids report that they do not feel safe and many more report being bored or disinterested in friends or school. Supporting student and parent engagement means that we’re attuned to everyone’s needs and interests, and that we’re acting respectfully and responsibly. When children are engaged, they feel safe and supported to foster positive change in their communities in authentic and rich ways. For example, as part of one school’s climate reform work, a 4th grade class in Far Rockaway, New York, observed how students treated one another day to day. Despite the fact that students recited a daily pledge in which they promised to be models for their classmates and others, the 4th graders saw that few took this responsibility seriously. Taking action, the 4th graders now serve on the playground and in the classroom as up-stander models for 1st and 2nd graders, showing the younger students what a desired behavior actually looks like.