Wow, the trend of kids reaching out on social media for reinforcement, help, encouragement, and/or attention continues. This time, and in a really frightening way, on Youtube with teens asking if they are ugly … and many of the responses are horrifying.
My challenge is that when any of see these videos of kids asking for affirmation, respond positively … not just focusing on looks but their overall worth — that they have it, in case anyone was wondering what I mean. The whole sort of “I’m pretty and dammit I’m worth it” kind of thing may sound cliche, but cliches come from bits of truth (much like stereotypes, see?). These kids are worth it, even if they don’t see it.
It is our job, therefore to help them see it and, if possible, reach out to those who would tear them down too. If others on the net are so quick to respond negatively to these kids’ pleas, maybe they need to feel better about themselves too. Of course it’s possible that some of them are just mean, but stopping the behavior has merits, too, right?
1. Respond to these video pleas positively if you come across them.
2. Discuss the issue with your kids, your neighbors kids, your students, nieces and nephews, step-kids, foster kids, the kids who deliver your paper…whatever. Reach a kid. Or two.
3. Encourage friends, families, coworkers, your kids’ teachers and coaches, fellow volunteers or hobby enthusiasts — anyone you can — to do the same.
4. If you have a chance to influence the climate in a school, church, youth group, or club, do it.
5. Encourage kids to talk to their parents, or any adult they feel they trust, if they’re seeming vulnerable.
And, key to all of these… remember what you felt like when you were at your least secure as a kid (when you had acne, crazy hair, the wrong shoes, a scrawny neck…whatever) and/or imagine what a parent feels like when they find out their child is posting to Youtube for help and reinforcement.
There’s so much talk recently about our resources — bringing jobs back to the U.S., finding our own fuel sources — but our kids are the resource that will take us further, will determine our future and the future of the country (and beyond!). If we fail them now, then what?