ADL: Swastikas Drawn On Arms, Legs Of Denver Middle School Students

On April 28, a student at Campus Middle School in Cherry Creek School District allegedly drew swastikas on other students’ arms and legs. If that is not troubling enough, they did so after participating in a lesson about the Holocaust, the systematic murder of over six million Jews and five million others. Of the Jews that were killed, one and a half million were children.

As news about the incident at Campus Middle School made its way through the community, families and students from this and other schools reported that students and educators have been subjected to Nazi salutes, pennies being thrown at them, and taunts that include they should be thrown into gas chambers, “Kanye was right” and “Hitler did not do a good enough job.”

ADL recently reported in its Audit of Antisemitic Incidents that the 3,697 incidents of harassment, vandalism, and assault it tabulated in 2022 were the highest number on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979, and were a 36% increase from those tabulated in 2021. The audit also revealed that in 2022, there were 494 antisemitic incidents reported in non-Jewish K-12 schools, which was a 49% increase over the number of incidents in 2021. Given the insidious nature of bullying, compounded by the fact that many students do not feel empowered to report their experiences, we know it is likely that the actual number of school-based antisemitic incidents was significantly higher than the data reported in the Audit.

There is much we are doing at ADL and much you can do as parents, caregivers and members of a community that care about rising Jew hatred. At ADL, since we first heard about the incident:

  • We have been in contact with the principal and administrators at Campus Middle School and with school district leaders to provide resources to better combat antisemitism.
  • Last Monday night, I was privileged to join with about 100 parents, students, and teachers to address the Cherry Creek School District’s School Board about the need to improve the culture and climate in their schools for all students and to remind them that at this time when such terrible incidents are occurring, it is important for them to remember that Jews count, too. I was especially proud that students joined with parents in their “Anti-Semitism Free Zone” and “#EndJewHatred” tee shirts and bravely told their stories.
  • We have scheduled meetings with the Superintendent of the Cherry Creek School District to address issues in the immediate aftermath of the incident at Campus Middle School, as well as more proactive work the School District may do to counter antisemitism.
  • In Colorado, over 1,000 Jewish high school and college students and their allies are empowered to respond to antisemitism each school year through ADL’s “Words to Action” programs, and we will increase efforts to bring the program to additional summer camps and youth groups over the summer.

Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Report antisemitic incidents in your school, community, or workplace: https://www.adl.org/report-incident
  2. STUDENT MINI-LESSON: The Pyramid of Hate: https://adl.org/sites/default/files/The-Pyramid-of-Hate-Student-Edition-web/story.html
  3. EDUCATOR MINI-LESSON: Antisemitism: What Do Educators Need to Know?: https://adl.org/sites/default/files/education/mini-lesson/antisemitism/story.html
  4. ARTICLE: When it comes to bias, we must prioritize impact over intent: https://www.adl.org/resources/tools-and-strategies/when-it-comes-bias-we-must-prioritize-impact-over-intent
  5. ARTICLE: https://www.adl.org/resources/tools-and-strategies/responding-jokes-and-slurs
  6. ARTICLE: When ‘Just Joking’ Is No Joke: How to Respond When Students’ ‘Jokes’ are Biased or Offensive: https://www.adl.org/resources/tools-and-strategies/when-just-joking-no-joke-how-respond-when-students-jokes-are-biased
  7. BINAH: Building Insights to Navigate Antisemitism & Hate: https://everfi.com/courses/k-12/binah/

Thank you for standing together with us in the fight against Jew hatred and bigotry of all kinds.

Scott Levin
ADL Mountain States Regional Director

About Jeremy Shaver

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