As I reviewed my newsfeed in the past week I was confronted with the dire nature of the information contained in those many stories. Prevalent and disturbing, these issues included sexual assault, murder, school violence, polarized political figures, drug overdoses, hostility among our leaders, group anger in protests, blatant disrespect, personal threats.
I wonder how our students are feeling about the world they live in. Even in school there are all kinds of issues that seem to be high threat. The challenges of academic success, the competitive nature of college admissions, peer discord, bullying, addictions, mental health struggles like depression and other disconcerting concerns are some of those so prevalent in our schools today.
Even when we consider some of the past mainstays of our societal stability there are some harsh realities in how our students could be perceiving the world around them. We have witnessed a powerful abuse of power within our religious leadership with more and more exposure of the sexual abuse of children. We hear of individuals who are teachers, police officers and other leaders who have been exposed in criminal behavior and other acts that are unbecoming of those who are in authority. Then there are the extremes that are still hanging in the air like terrorism and active shooters that have left a wake of destruction and personal loss to families. Who can our children truly trust?
I try not to be a person that is looking at the world, focused on the negatives. However, the hard reality is that we are inundated with these stories and perspectives.
I think it is important that we recognize the unsettled nature of our society that is so exposed to our youth through social media. Where do they find any sense of stability or safety?
I think the best place to instill values that are safe and stable is in our homes where parents can set the tone for their children and provide an environment where there is emotional and relational health. There needs to be love, care, compassion, discipline and stable values. Parents and caregivers need to be intentional to provide a safe place for their kids so that they can live in relative peace and support with those who love them most.
With such tragedy and discord swirling around our kids, we need to be so careful that we are providing an environment devoid of threat and filled with unconditional love and acceptance. It may be the only place they will find that level of safety.
We as a community must be aware of the messages that our children are exposed to and counteract them with a different and more protected environment where they can thrive in safety and find the confidence they need to be resilient enabling them to live a quality life. There is much more to say but raising this awareness of safety is a good starting point.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO