Connecticut Leaders, Citing Need For Education, Report Many Incidents In Schools
March 14, 2007
By KATIE MELONE, Courant Staff Writer
The number of anti-Semitic incidents reported last year increased in Connecticut, but declined nationwide, according to figures to be released today by the Anti-Defamation League.
The figures alarmed the Connecticut chapter's leaders, who said that nearly a third of the incidents reported across the state occurred in schools. Just last week, a custodian removed anti-Semitic graffiti at a high school playing field in West Hartford.
In 2006, West Hartford police investigated anti-Semitic vandalism and graffiti in an office building, inside a middle school and on a Holocaust memorial at the Chabad House. Arrests were made in several cases. Others remain under investigation.
"It underscores to us the need to continue and strengthen our efforts to educate our youth as well as others in the community about the issues of bias and hatred that underlie anti-Semitism as well as racism, homophobia and all forms of bigotry," Randi Pincus, assistant director of the Connecticut regional office of the Anti-Defamation League, said Tuesday.
From 2005 to 2006, the number of anti-Semitic incidents increased from 57 to 77.
Of these, 41 complaints were of harassment and 36 of vandalism. The ADL calculated its figures based on reports of bias it received from individuals, law enforcement, the media and community leaders.
Connecticut reported the seventh-highest number of incidents in the country.
Pincus conceded that it is possible that the figures increased because people may feel more comfortable reporting such incidents, but the ADL suspects that the number of incidents is actually higher than tallies indicate. "There are a lot of factors that go into the numbers each year," Pincus said. "As we indicated, the incidents in the audit likely only represent a small fraction of incidents taking place."
Faculty around the state have sought the opportunity to invite to classrooms groups such as the ADL to lead discussions on tolerance, said Thomas Murphy, spokesman for the state Department of Education. "Part of the problem is that there hasn't been many state grants or federal grants," he said. "So school districts have to find the dollars themselves and they do that willingly, but they have to find the money themselves."
The state has a contract with the ADL to provide training to school districts that participate in the CHOICE program that places students from Hartford in suburban schools, said William Howe, a consultant for the state for multi-cultural education, gender equity and civil rights.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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