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What are civil rights?
Civil rights can be defined in the simplest terms as our personal liberties or rights. Civil rights enforcement is the means by which the State of Maine protects those rights.
What is the The Maine Civil Rights Act?
In the State of Maine, the Attorney General enforces the Maine Civil Rights Act, a civil statute that authorizes the Attorney General to seek restraining orders against persons who commit violence, threats of violence, or property damage motivated by bias. These restraining orders are intended to ensure that the people in this State are afforded the rights guaranteed to them by the United States Constitution, and the Constitution and laws of Maine.
What is a the Civil Rights Team Project?
The Civil Rights Team Project (CRTP) is a school-based preventative program to combat hate violence, prejudice, harassment and bias in the schools. The CRTP builds a collaborative of students, faculty and community advisors who work together to create a safer environment for all students and to lower incidence of hate language in the school community. Through regional student and faculty trainings and in-service trainings on site, participant schools develop involved citizen behaviors that can reduce the incidence of bias language that too often leads to bias based threats and violence. Students learn intervention strategies and peer education strategies to reduce intolerance and build an understanding of Maine Civil Rights Act in the entire school community.
The CRTP attempts to create a structure within schools whereby teachers and students work together in a coordinated effort with state and local law enforcement to change the climate of intolerance and violence within schools. Equally important, the CRTP seeks to create alternative mechanisms through which students could alert someone of harassment before the harassment escalates to serious violence. The CRTP has grown from 18 middle and high schools in 1996 to more than 202 schools this year, including 11 elementary schools.
A Civil Rights Team consists of at least two faculty advisors, an average of ten to twelve students, and a community advisor (someone from the community who provides a means of connection and support outside the school system). At regional trainings in the fall, teams are grounded in the Civil Rights Act, develop team building and leadership skills, and learn more about civil rights and how they as a team can impact their school community. In the spring, teams participate in a statewide conference. The conference provides broad based information and experiences relating to civil rights, and allows teams from across the state to work interactively.
Teams meet weekly or bi-weekly in their schools. Teams projects include bulletin boards, assemblies, and surveys, to name just a few.
Regional Coordinator: Schools are supported in their efforts by a regional coordinator, who serves as the primary liaison between the school and the Department. The regional coordinators have expertise in working with schools and provide invaluable resource information and ongoing consultation to the schools.
Community Advisor: Schools are also supported in their efforts by a community advisor. The community advisor works with the Civil Rights Team and assists them in making connections with the larger community. The community advisor can also assist with locating resources for teams.
Mission Statement of the Civil Right Team Project
The mission of the Civil Rights Team Project is to increase the safety of high school, middle school and elementary school students and to reduce the incidence of bias-motivated harassment and violence in schools.
What doe the Mission Statement of the CRTP hope to accomplish?
To train, encourage and support student members of Civil Rights Teams to be leaders, in collaboration with their teachers, administrations, parents and community members in their school communities, and to develop the skills and confidence to address incidents of bias and harassment.
To develop a collaborative effort between the Office of the Attorney General, local law enforcement agencies, Maine schools, parents and community members to address issues of bias and prejudice.
To train and encourage teachers and administrators at schools to identify and respond to incidents of bias and harassment before those incidents escalate to serious violence.
The Projected Outcomes for the Civil Rights Teams Project:
To train, encourage and empower high school, middle school and elementary school student members of Civil Rights Teams to be leaders within their school communities on issues relating to confronting bias, prejudice and harassment.
To increase the awareness and responsiveness of faculty and administrators of the problem of bias, prejudice and harassment by conducting in-service trainings at each of the participating schools.
To increase the awareness and commitment of schools, parents, and community members to address the problem of bias-motivated harassment.
To foster constructive relationships between the local school department, the local police department and the Civil Rights Teams Project.
To improve the school experience for members of targeted groups (racial, religious, national origin, sexual orientation, etc.) by increasing their feelings of safety within their schools and their understanding that differences will be accepted.
To insure a school climate that will decrease both the incidents of bias-motivated harassment and the routine use of hate language.
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