Modeling. Many of us probably don’t realize it, but young people around us or people who look up to us and respect us observe how we behave and how we carry ourselves, and they model our behavior because they think it’s a wise and good thing to do.
It’s said that in the sporting world, players are a reflection of their coaches. If a team is led by a stoic coach who keeps his or her cool in even the most intense of circumstances, chances are the players, too, are going to keep a relatively even, mature, and measured keel at crunch time. The opposite would in theory be no less true, then: A coach who goes bananas and curses at officials when things don’t go his or her way likely has players who are prone to flying off the handle when the going gets tough.
But modeling, reflective behavior is never more apparent than with kids and their parents. That’s why many a parent since the dawn of time has been known to try to dodge the appearance of hypocrisy in the eyes of the next generation by telling their kids, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Which brings us to last Thursday, when news broke that a Crookston High School student had at some point the previous weekend made some kind of threat, via a Snapchat post, in regard to bringing a gun to school and using it. Other students saw it, it was reported to school district officials, and they investigated it, with the help of Crookston Police. The threat was subsequently deemed to be not credible, and school district leaders, in going public Thursday, said that at no time were any students or staff in danger. The student was disciplined.
But days after the Snapchat threat, a post on Facebook claimed that a student went into the CHS office and said to staff there words to the effect that if she didn’t get some help for the bullying she was enduring, she was going to come back with a gun and shoot up the school.
Some parents who saw it, understandably, became upset. Some went to the high school to speak to Principal Eric Bubna, while others turned to a much less reliable source for accurate, reasonable information, Facebook, and proceeded to pour gasoline on the fire in conversation threads that went on and on and were filled with rumor, innuendo, half-truths and unfounded accusations. If the longtime notion that the truth typically lies somewhere in the middle is accurate, then these parents were pushing the middle way toward the extreme, absurd end. Soon, Superintendent Chris Bates issued an “instant alert” to try and set things straight. At the same time, Bubna found himself speaking to the media in an effort to disseminate accurate information.
If you take some of the comments in that mile-long Facebook thread as gospel, Crookston High School is just about the worst place on the planet. What an unfortunate display it was. CHS is no utopian picnic, obviously – no school is – but it’s not the evil incarnate, either. There are young people who are dealing with the weight of the world on their shoulders, or at least they’re convinced they are. Others are truly messed up and need help. Still others simply crave attention. No matter their situation and/or train of thought, they’d be far better served by parents and other adults in their lives who don’t go off half-cocked simply for the sake of going off half-cocked, for all to see.
Parents, adults...your kids and other young people are watching you. If you can’t keep it together, how can you expect your kids to?