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With its 2011 awards, Gonzaga’s Institute for Hate Studies recognizes role of abuse and media in building hate

The Gonzaga University Institute for Hate Studies are present ing the 2011 Eva Lassman Take Action Against Hate Awards to Partners with Families and Children: Spokane (PFCS) and Mary Stamp, editor of The Fig Tree, at its third annual Take Action Against Hate Banquet at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 11, in Cataldo Hall at Gonzaga University.

The featured speaker for the program at 7 p.m. is Kitara McClure, multicultural director at Spokane Community College.

Partners with Families and Children is being recognized for its work with at-risk children and their parents to provide help, safety, justice and healing, starting nearly 25 years ago as the Regional Center for Child Abuse and Neglect at Deaconess Hospital.  It became Casey Family Partners for seven years before becoming a nonprofit in 2005 as Partners with Families and Children.

“We have seen an increase in child abuse and neglect with the economic downturn,” said Kari Gryteal, the new director.

Last year they served more than 2,000 children and families facing poverty, abuse, neglect, mental illness, barriers to health care and exposure to drugs, violence and hate. Its services are part of a continuum of care including medical care to address abuse, services for families, legal support for child victims and prevention, such as through the community education initiative Our Kids: Our Business.

Gary Woods, clinical supervisor who works with families and children said staff have“Undoing Racism” training and training to understand power.

From 2001 to 2006, he worked with Partner’s Safe Start program, going with police or a sheriff’s officer to a home where there was violence, and children were at home.  He saw how exposure to violence affected children, few of whom had been identified as at-risk by other agencies.

“Violence, anger and hatred are pervasive and rarely identified,” he said. “Even parents in a home where there has been suicide, homicide or domestic violence think their children did not know.

“The children are hyper-vigilant, aggressive, anxious, withdrawn, have impaired empathy and lower social competence,” Gary said.  “Children exposed to hate act out and are confused.”

Partners staff also seek to be sensitive to racial and cultural differences between service providers and victims, encouraging clients to invite non-offending family and friends to be there with them, and continually asking if their response is helpful.

In her work with The Fig Tree, a nonprofit communications ministry, Mary seeks to overcome hatred by modeling peace and justice journalism that focuses on solutions to conflicts.

A 1967 graduate of the University of Oregon School of Journalism, she founded The Fig Tree in 1984 through the former Spokane Council of Ecumenical Ministries, initially to report on religion.

“Having known of Eva Lassman’s relentless, tireless efforts to educate people to overcome tendencies to hate, I believe we each need to find our niche to take action against hate,” Mary said.  “So I will receive the award as a call to continue to pursue peace, justice, human rights and respect that fosters human dignity, equality and caring.

“For me, it means to continue to educate people on ways media, political systems and individuals incite hate to divide people so that they maintain their power and profits,” Mary explained.  “Many media tend to accentuate how people and institutions polarize thinking as a short-cut. 

“Our role with The Fig Tree, beyond publishing each month, is to be an example of justice and peace journalism dealing with the realities of conflict by looking at multiple solutions, rather than applying the sports win-lose approach,” she said.

“We need to hear stories, visions, hopes and humanity of people who believe, care and act to make a difference,” she said.

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Copyright © October 2011 - The Fig Tree