I do not want to preach... nor do I want to get drawn into any long arguments...
If you read this blog, you probably have read about the tragic loss of a teenage girl on the news over the past month or so. Her name was Megan and after a severe bout of depression mixed with some cyber-harassment, she hung herself. The worst part of the story (if it could get worse) is that the cyber-bullying was from the mother of another teenage girl posing as an *interested* teenage boy.
There is another Blogger location where that particular mother attempts to defend herself (I believe it's titled "meganhaditcoming")... but I believe her logic is seriously flawed and it relates to the child-care industry.
You see, teenagers can be cruel and emotionally illogical. Between cliques and romances and pressures to fit in while standing out, the plight of a young adult IS REALLY HARD (just remember your awkward years). Sometimes this means that friends can turn to enemies at the drop of a hat... and apparently this was the case with Megan.
Seeing no other way to save her emotionally fragile and innocent daughter, this mother decided to attack the problem in the exact way that a 13 year-old would. Her blog entry and subsequent comments defends her actions over and over again as the ONLY possible option for saving her daughter... that she was being a "good parent."
Haven't you heard this logic before? Didn't you ever have a staff member who made a horrible decision and couldn't possibly see how they went wrong?
Two things happened:
1. The mother fought negativity with negativity.
Camp people know that this doesn't work... our worst behaved campers thrive on the extra attention they get, regardless of what flavor it comes in. Incentive programs go much farther than constant time-outs. If you haven't learned this yet, then keep a log of every time-out. You may be surprised by the repeats... year after year.
2. The mother didn't act like an adult.
Adults don't go onto MySpace and fake out 13 year-olds... wait... RATIONAL adults don't. It sounds ridiculous now to think of a 30+ woman pretending to be a 16 year-old boy online... and to have her act as if it's normal behavior. No. It's not. NOT AT ALL. If I see a 3 year-old on the playground take a swing at my nephew, I don't automatically run over and hit them back. That's ridiculous, right?
OK. I have a point:
Teenagers, or the bulk of our employees, sometimes have the same troubles as this mother. I've seen some male counselors (and actually experienced this as a camper myself) throwing back insults to some loud-mouthed 8 year-olds...
First of all, don't jokingly insult your campers... second of all, don't act like an 8 year-old.
This problem is easy to identify with the younger campers / counselors, but in teen programs the line blurs even more. A good deal of teen counselors have a problem distinguishing when to be an adult and when to be "cool." I have the answer: ALWAYS BE AN ADULT AND DON'T CARE ABOUT BEING COOL. I know that sounds pretty lame, but the *coolest* counselors do their job and do it well... even the most angry and callous teens can tell.
Don't get me wrong - a lazy, slang-yelling, no-rules kinda person is adored by the teens... but who wants that on their staff? Not me.
Anyway, I only hope that people can learn from this and maybe this mother will realize the folly of her ways... at least I can tell of this tragic event during trainings to illustrate the importance of acting like an adult.