Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Why? A Guest Column by Amanda Goodman

Superintendent News & Views
By David Hill, North Tama Superintendent

A few weeks ago, a high school student who lives not too far from our community took his own life. While none of us can be sure of the reasons for this, I think all of us can agree that it was disturbing to learn that this young man was ENCOURAGED to commit suicide by a number of his peers. The evidence of this is very public because it was published on social media.
Shortly after this horrific event, former KWWL anchor Amanda Goodman published a blog post that really “hit home” with me.  Amanda is now the Executive Director of the Family & Children's Council of Black Hawk County, and she continues her crusade against bullying.  Amanda is also a realist. She understands that bullying is going to happen – it always has – and that there are things we ALL can do to reduce incidences of bullying. 
Because I felt that Amanda’s blog post was something we all needed to hear, I contacted her and asked if she would consider being a “guest columnist” by allowing us the permission to reprint her article in our local paper and on my blog. She was happy to grant permission. While Amanda isn’t necessarily talking about the specific incident mentioned above, she makes some good points that I think all of us – especially parents of young people – need to hear. 
Please read Amanda’s blog post with an open mind and a focus on what is best for kids:

A Guest Column by Amanda Goodman

86…That’s how many messages from parents I have gotten in the past 12 hours. They’re asking for help…they’re asking me to use my voice to keep talking about the bullying epidemic…they’re offering to help me in order to finally put an end to all of this nonsense.  But the biggest thing everyone is asking me is this: Why? Why does this continue to happen?
Not everyone is going to like what I have to say. And that’s okay. But if you know me, or of me, then you know that I am unapologetically real.  I have zero minutes in my day to sugarcoat anything…because let’s face it, it just wastes everyone’s time.
This is not like the movies in the 80’s and 90’s where kids are getting thrown into lockers or meeting out on the playground to settle the score.  It is NOTHING like it was when we were growing up. Back in the day, Friday was the day everything came to a head. By the time the weekend was done, everything had blown over.
Now, thanks to social media, Monday is the new Friday. Things build and build over the weekend…and it all collides just in time for classes on Monday.  Our kids are bullying and harassing one another from the confines of their bedrooms.  Their fingers are assault weapons…typing and posting away.
Teachers can NOT be held responsible for something that is happening in our own homes. Here is the thing: PARENTS, TAKE BACK YOUR HOUSE.  The privacy your child thinks they deserve? Umm…nope.  Your house, your bills, your rules. Privacy comes when our children are “off our payroll.”
Stalk them. Know everything they’re texting. Know everything they are posting.  Know everything they are receiving. Know everything that’s being posted about them.  Follow them on social media.  Follow their friends.  BE IN THE KNOW.  Set a time every night where every damn device is turned off and turned over to you. Sure, your kids will roll their eyes at you…they’ll probably call you clingy or annoying.  I call it parenting.
Am I a parenting expert? Hell no. Most days I have no clue what I am doing. But I have been involved in the anti-bullying movement for QUITE some time now.  I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of messages from bullies and mean girls.  I’ve read the diaries of the victims where they outline the pain.  I’ve sat down with the parents of the victims who told me they had no clue their child was struggling.  I’ve sat down with the parents of the bullies who were shocked that “little Johnny could do this!” I have been to the FUNERALS of young children who have killed themselves because they couldn’t take it.
Let that sink in.  FUNERALS of young children…because they couldn’t take it anymore.
Our kids need to learn empathy.  As much as our children know that they are the center of our world…they need to understand that everything doesn’t revolve around them. Feelings matter…words hurt…words scar…words kill.
We, as parents, need to take off our rose-colored glasses and realize that OUR KID could be the mean girl…the bully. We need to stop feeling thankful that “at least they’re not the one getting picked on.”
Our kids don’t need to be friends with everyone.  They don’t need to like everyone.  Not everyone is going to like them.  And that’s okay.  Because that’s how it works in the real world.  There are several people who I know who I have no plans to have a pizza party with, hold hands and sing Kumbaya.  It’s about being respectful and civil.
So, to answer the question “Why is this happening?”  I believe that answer can be found in our own homes. 

I encourage your feedback on all of my columns, along with any questions you may have. These SUPERINTENDENT NEWS & VIEWS columns, in addition to my blog and Twitter postings, are part of my plan for open communication with the community as a part-time superintendent with duties in another area school district. If you’ve missed any of my columns or would like to re-read or share them with your friends and family, you are welcome to visit my blog at where they are all posted. You are also welcome to follow me on Twitter (@DavidRobertHill) where I will occasionally post updates or other information not found on the blog. 

Reprinted with permission from Amanda Goodman, Copyright 2017. 

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