Its been months since I’ve sat down and completed my ongoing thoughts on the heavy subject of suicide. Yet at no point in my blogging hiatus have I forgotten about the real issues faced by youth confronted by intolerance on the daily. How I’ve longed to “dust off” our website and jump back into an ongoing conversation. Yet its been nerve wracking to confront all the dust kicked up by a society that allows the mass marketing of blatant bullying to proceed. Seemingly without consequence.
I’ve fought the temptation to play politics; scapegoating often causes one to lose focus on solutions to the very issues they present. I have realized, however, that I made a common mistake most adults in America make: I assumed politics were not for kids.
How could I? The response to our first music video contest brought voices from around the globe reminding me that students feel very strongly about their communities. About how they treat each other with civility while growing together into the future. The reality for modern students in this country is that the example above represents one of many, many voices that can be found online promoting bully like behavior.
A previous post here addressed the mistake adults make by assuming bullying is a type of milestone – something experienced only in one’s childhood. Yet here we are, witnessing a very hard to explain election alongside our children. Witnessing name calling, because both sides have dabbled in lowering the bar this year. Anyone is capable of finding YouTube clips of candidates outright promoting violence to anyone who does not pass subjective tests of being considered socially acceptable.
Bullying is a political issue that cannot be pushed on students to ponder and solve alone. Not when individuals vying to be president emulate the exact behavior we tried to teach our children not to participate in for decades. “Play nice with others” should not have an age restriction. After all, suicide is not an adults only issue these days given the epidemic of lives being lost long before they truly began.
Our students deserve better examples. Not just from our politicians but from any adult they interact with. Their political issues matter because their lives matter. They are on this journey with us. Valuable conversations happen with students and family members when we make sure to listen to one another. Let the dust from hate settle and sweep away intolerance with patience and kind words.
[Image courtesy of: http://press4kids.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/newspaper-kids-cutout.png / Trump image screenshot from CNN newsfeed]