What To Do > Teachers & Mentors > Anonymous Acts

Anonymous Acts

 A swastika was found carved onto a library chair, with no way of knowing who had done it. The administration removed it immediately, and the school’s newly formed culture and climate team discussed the incident and brainstormed ways to check in with students who knew it had happened and to be more vigilant about public spaces. The school also implemented an anonymous reporting system to encourage students to come forward with concerns.

— Case cited in Confronting White Nationalism in Schools (Western States Center)

Examples of items white nationalists may place anonymously on school property

  • graffiti, such as a swastika, SS symbol, or slogan spray painted on school walls
  • symbols written or carved on chairs or desks
  • an object such as a noose left on school grounds
  • a flyer with white nationalist content posted on a wall or bulletin board
  • an anonymous message left on a classroom chat platform

Steps To Take

If you discover items such as those above:

  • take a photo or screenshot
  • contact school administrators
  • avoid immediately destroying items

When images or objects may have been left by persons outside the school, administrators may want to call in local authorities before removing them. This can also help track broader patterns of white nationalist activity in the community. Prior to removal, covering graffiti or objects in the interim may generally be appropriate.

These types of incidents in solation may have little impact, but they can be the first sign of a broader problem. Make sure they are noted and recorded, not ignored.

Avoid overreacting to isolated incidents. If the scale of incidents becomes significant, plan with other teachers and administrators for ways to discuss the problem within the school community.

If there are students who feel they were targets of the incident, assess whether to have follow-up discussions or to recommend counseling, as you would in other disturbing situations. Avoid focusing student attention on identifying those who caused the incident, or responding with a punitive tone.

Anonymity can be:

Helpful: A confidential or anonymous online student reporting system can make students feel safer bringing incidents to attention.

Harmful: If an incident involves a message on a classroom computer platform, disable anonymous posts.