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Students learn they’re ‘Free to be’ themselves

11 Jun 2019
  • Students at Cheshunt school learn about prejudice and hate crime
  • Workshops coincide with events marking 90 years since the birth of Anne Frank
  • Student manager says 'story of hate and legacy of hope' had real impact on teens

In a week where national events are marking 90 years since the birth of Anne Frank, students at a Hertfordshire secondary school have learnt about the impact of prejudice-related bullying and hate crime.

Around 80 Year 8 students at St Mary’s School in Lieutenant Ellis Way, Cheshunt, joined the Anne Frank Trust’s anti-bullying ‘Free to be’ workshops on Monday and Tuesday, June 10 and 11. The 12 and 13-year-olds learned about hate-related bullying issues faced by young people today and how to challenge it.

“Our latest project to bring the Anne Frank Trust’s anti-bullying programme to schools in Hertfordshire explores prejudice-related bullying and how issues can escalate into hate crime,” explained Chief Inspector Chris Treadwell.

“Free to be encourages young people to develop more critical thinking about their own views and those that they encounter every day. We have a dedicated team of hate crime officers who work hard to raise awareness of the different kinds of hate crime and how to report them in Hertfordshire because we know they are under-reported.”

Wednesday, June 12 marks 90 years since the birth of Anne Frank – a Jewish girl who went into hiding in Amsterdam during the Second World War to escape persecution from the Nazis. After more than two years in hiding, they were discovered and deported to concentration camps. Anne’s father, Otto Frank, was the only one of the eight people in hiding to survive. After her death, Anne became world-famous because of her diary, which she wrote whilst in hiding.

The Anne Frank Trust was established in 1991 as an education charity to empower young people with the knowledge, skills and confidence to challenge all forms of prejudice and discrimination using Anne Frank’s powerful life story and diary as a starting point.

Tonia Nigrelli, St Mary’s Year 8 school manager, said: “Pupils really got involved with Anne’s story of hate and legacy of hope, grasping how they could apply what happened to her and how she felt, to things that are happening in society today. In the autumn, pupils will be making anti-prejudice films and resources to spread the word further.”

Chief Insp Treadwell added: “In recent years we have worked with partners, including Hertfordshire County Council, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, district and borough councils, the Hertfordshire Football Association and local charities to raise awareness about hate crime.

“Our hate crime officers have also given school assemblies encouraging reporting and last October we marked National Hate Crime Awareness Week with an event for 16 to 19-year-olds at police headquarters.

“This work demonstrates our on-going commitment to tackling hate crime in Hertfordshire and sends a clear message to those who commit crimes motivated by hate, that their actions will not be tolerated.”

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