Sunday, July 7, 2019

Say It

I came across, and then just as quickly lost, a post by Howard County teens on Twitter calling out the online behavior of students from Mount Hebron High School. They were making fun of a special needs student for not graduating. The conversation they had provided (via screenshot) went from ordinary mocking to vile in moments. (Found it. It’s from May 29th and the exchange took place on Instagram. I’m not going to share the screenshots because I don’t particularly want to give them a wider audience.)

A few thoughts:

*****What is it with Mount Hebron?

*****Do we do enough in our schools to create an atmosphere of inclusion that extends beyond educational placement? What about social acceptance?

*****At least there are students who see this happening and know it is wrong.

I know that my daughter received multiple lectures during her schooling about how her online behavior could negatively impact her opportunities for higher education and employment. She’s tremendously conscious of protecting her online “image”.

But I don’t know how much schools focus on accepting others, empathy, compassion. And those are things which parents must stress from the very earliest years if they want them to be part of what their child becomes. While I am a big fan of implementing a social emotional curriculum in school, that can never replace the importance of parents and family in the growth of each student.

Integrity is doing the right thing when you think no one is watching. Many kids think that that social media is a place where they “can’t get caught”. Letting of off steam, being flippant or irreverent is one thing. Being intentionally cruel is something else entirely.

If we don’t want this end result, we all need to work harder to lay the groundwork for kinder, more compassionate kids. Even if we think our kids are “good kids”. These conversations need to happen or else perhaps our children will not know we think these things are important. It doesn’t “go without saying.”

Say it.

“I care about what kind of person you are growing up to be. Let’s talk about what that means.”

One more thing: are we setting a good example?

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