Whereas December is Human Rights Month

Human Rights Graphic
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There is nothing like a good “whereas” to get me going. This December is Human Rights Awareness Month and specifically, December 10th is Human Rights Day and has some pretty important “whereas” statements. First declared in 1948 by the United Nations, calling attention to the fact that each of us has basic human rights and is entitled to healthy human interactions and treatment from others. Conversely, I begin thinking about the need for a specific day because, throughout our country and the world, not everyone is treated well. 

I love how Elenore Roosevelt put it: “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to homeso close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. [...] Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world." 

This leads me to think about how our children are doing. In all of our homes, are all children treated well? Do they experience universal human rights? We learned from the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (1998) that two out of three of us experience enough adversity that it changes our brain development. We know that adversity during development, in-utero to age 25, can directly impact the overall quality of life as adults. 

Treatment at home is closely related to how students are doing at school. For many, the holidays are not necessarily a positive time for students. How many of our students are putting on a good face, but inside they are really struggling to maintain self-control? How many students lack the basic ability to self-regulate? How we engage students can make a big difference in their learning. 

Getting Grounded

Starting a class with a grounding activity that helps students become calm and get settled is an excellent way to help students get ready for learning and it takes just a few minutes. During this holiday season, we all need to keep in mind that many of our students are coming to us in a more heightened state than usual. A calm moment to get centered before class starts, really helps and is in keeping with students being their best self—what a great lesson for humanity. 


The actual Human Rights declaration isn’t that long, but if you only have this minute, here are a few words from the preamble—pretty powerful stuff:

“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people…”

Thank you for your part in helping all students be treated with the highest regard. 

To learn more about Human Rights Day, click here

For teaching ideas about Human Rights, click here.

To share your teaching ideas with your colleagues, respond to the post below. 

Take care,



  1. One of the things I love to do is start off the year with a “Respect Agreements” activity. This highlights the needs of everyone—and what we all need to create our classroom community. If you’re interested in learning more about developing respect agreements in your classroom, email me @ jhanson@grantspass.k12.or.us


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