Great post here from Pippa Davies (@pippadavies & her personal blog), our Heritage Christian Learning Commons lead Cybrarian. I too saw The Fifth Estate’s program on CBC and knew I wanted to share and comment on it. Pippa, you beat me to it – so I’m just echoing your thoughts.
I did lead 3 chapels on the Amanda Todd tragedy last year. I remember it being a very sobering few weeks for our students and for our school. Again, this is why I feel led to echo and share what Pippa has written.
I trust you will enjoy her words as much as I did. Paul
This past week I watched a very sad indictment of the “Sextortion of Amanda Todd” being aired on CBC The Fifth Estate, tocommemorate the anniversary of Amanda’s death. I was horrified to hear how twelve and thirteen year old teens are sharing lewd images of themselves on group blogging and webcam sites. I was even more than horrified to see how online predators could take advantage of such students, and blackmail them into sharing more revealing images. This tragedy exemplifies some insidious dangers inherent with image sharing sites, such as SnapChat and Instagram, and with private chat rooms. Media literacy is not the topic on display, and images provoke more than just fear, or isolation, they can provoke students to suicide.
This brought to mind many ways as parents we need to be involved in our students’ “online time”?
It is one thing to have staff sharing at chapel; it is another to have students talking to each other.
The past two weeks I have shared on very heavy topics. So I felt a ‘check-in’ was needed. This was confirmed when two students at separate times came to ask if we could have an open mic at chapel.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I love sharing at chapel. I love having our HCS Chaplain, Josiah Bitgood, share at chapel. I love having our teachers share at chapel. But, there’s something inside me that happens when students share at chapel…I just love this even more. When students get up in front of their peers sharing at chapel it is a moment where I can see discipleship in action, where I can see spiritual impact among our students, where I can see evidence of God’s work in the lives of our kids. These are powerful times.
This week I did not use audio to record what was shared. But, I did take point-form notes. I would like to offer them here as evidence that things said the past two weeks at chapel had hit home, and that there is true space needed for students to talk to students.
Our lead Science teacher and Christian Studies 12 teacher, Mr. Patrick Hayden, was the first on the mic to say that just as he takes a physical shower each morning to feel clean, he pumps the Christian music in his classroom each morning as a spiritual shower. It’s a clean start to the day. He reminded students that his classroom door is always open for students wanting to spend time listening to music in the mornings before school.
The rest of these are from students:
Gr 11: Girls, respect yourself – if you don’t, how will other people respect you? Make positive choices. Guys, respect the ladies! Give respect to earn respect.
Gr 12: In the morning…stop and pray – thank God for everything you can think of. Two weapons we have: word of God & prayer.
Gr 12: [Spent time explaining the spiritual difference between] Authority Vs. Power.
Gr 10: Think before you speak – words are really hurtful.
Gr 11: Amanda Todd is a reminder of what I went through…even at a Christian school. Just because this is a Christian school doesn’t mean that people aren’t hurting.
Gr 11: It really hurts to be bullied, not being respected. No one deserve that. Wow – people here at this school actually care for me, smile at me, include me. I know God loves me here.
Gr 11: I recently hurt someone…twice. I’m funny, but my words made someone frown. I’m sorry _(student name)_. [Hug] I forgive you. I should have said something that blessed someone else, that made them think about God. Words are so meaningful.
Gr 9: Public apology to another Gr 9 student. Don’t be mean to people.
Gr 9: Getting hurt – you can choose to hold on to it…or you can choose to let it go. Don’t even worry about it.
Gr 11: Words – they are for encouragement, too!
Gr 7: I’ve been bullied.
Gr 10: I’ve been a jerk. Like Band of Brothers and comrades, we must stand together.
Gr 12: With respect to the Amanda Todd situation, I picture a big house, during an earthquake, shaking. Then I picture, like a cartoon, the house falling down but the door remaining upright. So, you can either walk in the door and pretend nothing has happened. Or, you could yell and scream, “It’s going down, we’re all going down with the ship!” Or, you can rebuild it…learning about the situation – continually learning from past events. KEY: We must actively remember these things…or we will forget…out of sight, out of mind.
Thank you, students, for your thoughts and vulnerability as you shared. I pray we all have the grace to listen.
Our words and our actions have such power – for good or for bad
We are all on a journey; we all find ourselves on a path. Be it a faith journey, a school journey, a maturity journey, or a physical destination journey – we all can relate to being in process. In light of Amanda Todd’s tragic incident earlier this October, and building off last week’s Chapel talk, I believe that we can also find ourselves on a spectrum of giving & receiving. But, the spectrum I want to present this week is one of hurtful words & actions. I don’t want to call this Bullying, but I do want to admit that we all have been givers and receivers of hurtful words. The audio below will explain this in greater detail.
Last week (previous post called part 1) we saw Amanda’s own YouTube video recorded a month before she took her life. After having a grade 7 post-chapel discussion, a group of students created their own response video as seen below. They had no staff help. Just as Amanda’s mother has said, “I have lost one child, but know she wanted her story to save 1,000 more,” I hope this grade 7 response video can serve as a light in a dark world with the message of God’s love. Great job grade 7s!
As I spoke with our students I made it clear that Bullying is the repeated attempt to undermine, intimidate, influence, and harm. A bully does not listen to the request to STOP and does not heed to the response of NO. Yet, as I built this talk, I aimed to speak to all of us – first-time or repeat offenders – who offer hurtful words or actions. Sometimes it’s a one-time big issue and other times it’s an ongoing small thing that although little, can add up over the long run. In the audio, I offer two of these negative examples from my own life – two things I am not proud of. Yes, your principal has things he is not proud of in his past. Yes, your principal is human. Yes, your principal needs to ask forgiveness…often.
Although I offer words to our givers and receivers on our spectrum of hurt, I did fail to mention those who may indeed be neither. I mean, some people may find themselves not directly involved. But, as an innocent bystander, they have an obligation to stand up for what is right, to stand up for Truth, and to stand up for those being hurt. They need courage to stand up and courage to speak to someone who can help.
I used the following scripture in the talk:
Col 4:6 – …speech being always full of grace, seasoned with salt…
Eph 4:22 – …putting off the old self; putting on the new…
Eph 4:29 – …do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths…
Eph 5:4 – …nor should there be any obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking
Eph 5:8 – …you were once in darkness, but now you are in the light…
[conclusion] 2Cor 10:2-6 – …taking every thought captive…
[conclusion] Col 3:17 – whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus…
As a self-reflection piece, I created this quick document to help students process where they might be at. I have given two sections – a personal side and also a peer-input side. I really want students to spend time with someone who knows them well to go over this page.
As always, I would love your thoughts on this post. I value and appreciate your feedback. The goal of eduglean is to glean/encourage/challenge/etc. one another. I invite you to consider offering a few words for the rest of us. Thanks in advance!
Note: Audio from today’s Chapel is included below. Please note the non-talking from 1:44-2:40. Also, the end of the audio has a time of prayer and music. You can play the talk directly here, or download it below.
Take home message from today’s Chapel (speaking to my students):
You have someone. You have someone in your life who cares.
Coquitlam, BC, is mourning the loss of 15-year-old Amanda Todd who took her life this past week. Amanda Todd’s tragic story has gripped BC, Canada, and parts of the world. In a nutshell her situation is the result of unfortunate online choices that began at age 12 that led to relentless cyber-bullying.
Since suicide and bullying are such a consequential and awful topics, I felt I needed to address them at today’s chapel with our High School. In general terms, I believe these topics are often treated with a, “it’s somewhere else; it’s someone else” attitude among students. Sad news can often be just that – news from another situation. Sorry. No. This is a precious 15-year-old life…gone forever. This could have been our city; this could have been our school; this have could have been our friend.
Important side questions for every family to discuss:
Have you met all your Facebook friends face-to-face? IE: Are you fully sure that they are who they say they are?
Are you aware of any and all possibly harmful or embarrassing or incriminating photos or videos that exist on your camera/cell/computer/etc.? What would happen if they ‘got out’?
Parents, how involved are you with the texting & social media activities of your children? I encourage every parent to have every password for every program that your child uses.
For information on the Amanda Todd story I recommend this article from the Vancouver Sun. I also recommend Amanda Todd’s own YouTube video which she recorded a month before ending her life. *Warning: the final scenes of the video are very graphic and today I stopped the video on the final slide at 8:05 where she says, “My name is Amanda Todd.”
My key point in my chapel talk centers around Amanda’s statement at 8:02 in her video below:
I have nobody; I need someone 😦
When I saw this I yelled at the computer. This is the LIE that I need to dispel today at chapel. The truth is that for students listening in chapel, they all have someone, they all have somebody who cares. The audio below will walk through the fact that God loves each of us so much, that families/guardians desire to know what is happening in our lives, that the friends around us care for us deeply, and that there can be adults in our lives such as youth leaders/counsellors/family friends/teachers/etc. who wish to listen.
Here is the video:
The conclusion of my talk today was just reminding students of how much God loves each one of us. This is part one of a two-part series on this topic. Stay tuned for next week’s chapel talk.