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On-Site Staff / Staff Leadership and Management

The Adult Amendment


“Amend”: to correct, to make right, to reconcile just with unjust, to come before one or more person(s) and ask for tangible, recognizable peace henceforth — “to make amends”

“Amendment”: the action of putting into practice amends made between parties
Amanda Todd’s suicide is a tragedy that will haunt our collective, cultural psyche for years to come. Discussing youth bullying is paramount, but what about our own behavior? How are youth seeing us?

Here’s what I see around me (disclaimer: these are my personal observations).

1. Youth in classroom settings often rally together against bullying, but in reality many are snickering over anti-bullying initiatives. Once the bell rings, the gloves come off.

2. Anti-bullying advocates are burning out, adult and youth alike. They see what they’re up against, and it never seems to end.

3. Adults are not mirroring youthful bullying… we are teaching it and justifying it.

4. Bullying truly does aggravate and fire up racial tensions, hatred, genocide and human trafficking. Sadly, as we have all seen, it also promotes environments for suicide.

5. We live in a culture of cruelty where it’s fun to be mean. Youth and adults are applauded for it as “wit”.

In an effort to create momentum towards calling not only a ceasefire to bullying (which would merely have people stop the meanness), but rather a culture of shalom (all-encompassing peace), I’m creating “The Adult Amendment”. It is the beginning of a tangible declaration of adults, knowing we have helped to create our culture of meanness, making amends with our youth, working together to change our habits and behaviors, and a modest commitment to modeling kindness in the most genuine, authentic ways possible.

As I said, it’s only a beginning. Please… add more.

1. We, as adults, acknowledge that we are broken, imperfect people who often lash out towards others for many reasons. We are afraid, angry, upset, hurt, abused, abusive, and confused. Sometimes we believe ourselves to be so incredibly right that we don’t listen to you as youth and your perceptions and views.

2. We, as adults, confess that we have brought our anger and pain to workplaces, places of worship, public spaces, and into our families. We take out our rage, shame and pain on undeserving others, feeling justified in simply lashing out. Sometimes we yell or slam doors. Other times, we are passive-aggressive and start rumors, gossip, put-down, or in other ways try to control other people.

3. We, as adults, are learning social networking in different ways than you, as youth. You are growing up in cultures of technology where you know nothing else other than Facebook, Twitter, texting, sexting, Youtube, Snapchat, Tumblr and other sites. We are learning brand new skills and discovering that not everything we say or do online is good… or kind. We ask that you, as youth, be patient with us as we learn netiquette, and learn to treat one another kindly online and in person.

4. We, as adults, recognize and admit that we have started online rumors, posted obscene comments, blocked friends off of Facebook out of spite and not safety, held Twitter-wars, written vague posts meant to attack certain people without ever really naming them, sending private pictures viral, texting other people to the point where they are scandalized, and many other cyber-bullying activities. Yes, youth, adults do this too. And when you see us doing it and getting a laugh or feeling good about ourselves in our meanness, you learn the same.

5. We, as adults, know we are to be role models for you as youth. Yet we humbly ask for your forgiveness when we have not listened to you, taken you seriously, learned from you, or seen YOU as role models. In the future, we ask that you share with us how you can be role models for us. We need role models too.

6. We, as adults, confess that often we have not controlled our anger, sarcasm, or sexual obscenity towards one another (on and offline). Sometimes we pride ourselves in refraining from posting cruel things online, only to hold ourselves higher above others who seem not to have the same self-control as well do. This, too, is a form of aggression — pride. Will you forgive us?

7. We, as adults, commit ourselves to not only being role models for you, as youth, but to changing our online behavior so that it is exemplified and other humans are dignified.

This includes but is not limited to:

– using our real names online when we make a comment about something, thus taking responsibility for our words
– letting go of petty differences that really don’t require any comment at all — stay off the send button!
– refusing to pass on private photos of someone else that are meant to hurt
– standing up to bullies who are sending on private information to hurt others
– strengthening our desire to listen to you, as youth, on and offline, as well as other grown ups and parents
– learning to see the signs of someone being bullied online and offering face-to-face relationship with that person, so they know they are not alone
– refusing to succumb to online rumors and scams
– ceasing and desisting all trolling
– choosing to see people before us as created images of God, thus giving us pause as to how they would like to be treated, and how we should be treating them
– choosing to deal with our brokenness, anger, shame and pain in ways that bring us healing and peace

Be it known that we, as adults, will make many more mistakes but when we do, may we agree together to forgive one another and move on.

For breakfast, I enjoyed a serving of overnight pumpkin and apple spiced oats!

Author Profile: @erinthomas

Follow Erin on Twitter @erinthomas_1abo.

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