“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Martin Luther King Jr.
Our second blog about the TASIS England Values in Action Program focuses on how we can live the school value of compassion through advocacy. The word advocacy comes from the French and Latin words advocare and advocatus, which mean speaking for another person. To be an advocate is to speak up on behalf of someone or something else. An advocate can be anyone who speaks out about a particular issue. At its core, advocacy is about making one’s voice heard on issues one feels strongly about.
This process is especially relevant and supportive to young people and children who are outsiders, witnesses, and defenders against relationship harm but are unsure of what they can do to support the target.
At TASIS England, we develop advocacy in our school community by challenging our students to develop the skills and compassion needed to be an advocate for themselves, their peers, and issues that they care about:
See it - You see or know that the harm is happening. This hurtful situation could be in person or online. It could include bullying, harassment, discrimination, inappropriate or nasty comments, or harmful sexual behavior.
Take it in - Knowing that the harm is happening, you acknowledge that it isn't right and you can empathize with the target. You don't have to know the target to relate to the harm, as perhaps you or a close friend has been in this situation before.
Think it over - You feel that the harm should stop and that the target should be supported, but you aren't sure what to do and freeze or avoid the harm. Perhaps you take some time afterward to think about what you have seen, and it still doesn't feel right.
Say something - You decide that you want to advocate for the target by supporting them, and you report your concerns to a trusted adult and/or via the MS/US Student Voice page. This action will help to keep the target and future targets safe.
In a world in which discrimination, harassment, and conflict on many levels are so prevalent, we want to teach our students to be intentional in their actions and use their voices to speak out appropriately. Advocacy is about listening, empathizing, strategizing, communicating, and not turning away from issues in our school community and in the wider world. The following quote from our founder, Mrs. Fleming, articulates our collective responsibility to develop our young people and children to be advocates for all that they value and feel strongly about.
“You are here to learn leadership, not to be a follower, for followers are often led down the wrong path. Be strong in your beliefs, fight for your own high values.”
Mrs. Fleming, Founder of TASIS England, 2003