Would You Step In?

Cyberbullying, what are these kids thinking?! Where did they learn this? Have they become so focused on their electronic devices that they’ve forgotten manners?The answer might just be closer than we think. We talk about how kids are so attached to their devices that they’re losing the art of person-to-person communication. HMMM… Step away from the Instagram and look in the mirror. Then watch the video at the end of this post.

Several times a week I watch a family of three talking a long walk together. They’ve been doing it for years. I watched them when their son was learning to ride a new bike with training wheels, and still see them now that he’s taller than dad. What a great sight; a family doing things together, exercising out in the great outdoors, planned quality time.  Norman Rockwell , here’s a  true picture of Americana. But something changed over the years. They used to talk and laugh… these days  mom and dad are both occupied on their cell phones and Jr. lopes along behind them, for all practical purposes on a solo walk… every time. What would Norman Rockwell think? Admittedly,  I do it too. I’m in the living room chatting with my son and my cell phone vibrates, and like Pavlov’s dog that sound stops me midsentence and I  pick up the phone.  

We tell our kids bullying is bad. Do they see us watching TV shows where contestants backstab others in the hopes they’ll raise in the ranks? Ever read the comments section after an on-line news article? Different opinions and spirited debate are healthy. But how often do the commenters take cheap personal shots at other commenters? Would they speak to someone so disparagingly in person?  Or does the cover of anonymity give license for sniping and barbed rudeness? High school students attend assemblies where the DA and school officials tell them how a knuckleheaded teenaged decision to send a revealing pic to that special someone can lead to exponential humiliation when that pic is shared electronically… and can lead to criminal charges, and sometimes personal tragedy.   Where do they learn this? Could it be from reading headlines about both local professionals and leaders as well as celebrities who regularly send such pics. Yeesh mom, everybody’s doing it!

How do we teach our kids to do the right thing? The answer is simple… let them see us in action. Schools  and groups like DVRC’s Ballston Area Community Allies have character education programs to teach kids  to step in when they see someone harassing another person …to “Be an Ally”. Be honest… would you step in or would you stand by uncomfortably,  watching silently? Here’s what happened when an undercover camera explored  just that dilemma.