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Two Conversations We Need to Have
by Jonathan McKee
12/12/2017

Have you ever regretted something you posted on social media?

Don’t feel bad, 57% of Americans who use social media have posted something they regret afterwards. And that’s just adults. Now jump into the brain of a 10-year-old. Yes, a 10-year-old. Nielsen research labels age 10 as the “mobile adoption sweet spot” because the average age a child receives a smartphone today is 10.3 years-old. How is a 10-year-old supposed to make wise decisions on their favorite social media apps like Snapchat, Instagram or FriendO? (Especially when COPPA—Child Online Privacy Protection Act—regulates that you have to be at least 13 to be on any of those three apps).

Today’s young people don’t think for more than 3 seconds before they post, press SEND, or accept a friend request (the more friends the better, right?). Sadly, the pics they post, the rants they engage in and the connections they make often lead to dire consequences.

JONATHAN'S BLOG: voices unheard
An overweight boy called “lard-ass” daily.

A girl physically assaulted because she liked the wrong guy.

A crowd of kids taunting a kid with a prominent red birthmark on his face, “Hey Kool-Aid!”

An overweight girl named Carla heartlessly labeled Cowla, trying to simply navigate around campus without being mooed at day after day.

These are just some of the voices I’ve been hearing… and the common denominator I keep finding:

“No one did anything.”


I don’t want to be an alarmist, and I definitely don’t want to insinuate that parents, teachers and schools don’t care. Not true. As you read this today I'm actually at an on-campus anti-bullying program run by Campus Life (think school-assembly on steroids with small groups where kids actually open up). The fact is countless adults care deeply about this—I’ve interviewed many of them. But sadly, many of these kids’ voices are being drowned out in the crowd. And far too many adults simply don’t have a clue what’s going on.

Literally every story I’ve heard contains the same element:

“I told the adult on ‘yard duty,’ and they said to just ignore it.”


“I told my parents and they dismissed it.”


“I told the principal, and he called the boys in and warned them. Nothing changed.”


I don’t have any problem believing these stories… because I’ve experienced this all firsthand. So let me ask this: in a world full of caring adults, how is it that we keep missing the cries of hurting kids?

How can we miss crowds of kids at recess jeering “Hey Kool Aid” at a boy with a giant birthmark? How is it that in a high school locker room kids are constantly ridiculed, tormented, slapped on the back of the neck, even hung up by their underwear? Is there some hidden code that a locker room is a ‘no adult’ zone? How can an entire campus know that there is going to be a fight after school—and adults actually warned about it—and yet a kid gets chased by a mob and beat to the ground until literally hospitalized, while campus security toss a football back and forth?

Let me give you just one specific example that happened to the daughter of a friend of mine. Girl likes boy, but boy likes two girls. Boy finally chooses one girl, so she and her friends decide to humiliate and ostracize the other girl just to make a point, ganging up against her between classes, knocking her books out of her hands, even shoving her to the ground. One time this shunned girl was pushed and threatened so she fled to a nearby bathroom where she hid in a stall and texted her mom: “Mom, please come get me. I’m scared.” Her mom rushed to school and told the front office what happened. “My daughter was just threatened by a group of girls and is now hiding in the bathroom terrified. She just texted me from a stall.”

The response from the front office?

“She’s not supposed to be texting at school.”


These are the stories I keep hearing, and I know that some schools are not like this. But why does this keep happening? And did you notice I didn’t even mention one story of cyber bullying? (Something I devoted an entire chapter to in my previous book.) The online world has only magnified the problem.

So what can schools, teachers and parents do to prevent this kind of cruelty?

What is the cure?

I want your stories. Do you have stories of kids being bullied, teased or mocked? What actions do you see adults taking? What’s working… what’s not working?

I’d love to include your stories in the book I’m writing on this subject. Email me!
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OFFSITE ARTICLES JONATHAN HAS READ THIS WEEK:
Why Watching TV with Your Kids is Better
Posted on January 1/16/2018, 2018 at 09:38 AM
The Sex Talk Isn't Enough
Posted on January 1/9/2018, 2018 at 02:16 PM
is social media contributing to the rising teen suicide rate?
Posted on January 1/9/2018, 2018 at 01:46 PM
What parents need to know about social pressures on social media
Posted on January 1/9/2018, 2018 at 01:14 PM
smartphones games and social media linked to rise in teen suicide
Posted on January 1/9/2018, 2018 at 01:09 PM
Smartphone addiction showing up in teens' brains
Posted on January 1/9/2018, 2018 at 01:05 PM
the subtle signs that your teen is drinking
Posted on January 1/9/2018, 2018 at 01:00 PM
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"Excuse Me; May I Have Your Attention?"
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David R. Smith

“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Umm…Britney could you put your iPhone away? As I was saying, Columbus had three ships with him, the Niña, the Pinta, and the – Dylan! For the last time, turn your ringer off!!!”

Thanks to smartphones, lots of teachers...