Middle school sucks. Not the school in particular, the years of middle school life. I know because I’ve been through middle school, watched one of my children go through it, and currently have one in middle school. Kids are trying to figure out who they are. Many start to make bad choices. Others struggle with trying to keep on the right path. Socially, emotionally, hormonally, things are on warp speed. We’ve had our share of incidents through these years. The incident I refer to below probably won’t be the last. All is fine now, and my daughter does not know I’m writing about this, so if you my family, please don’t mention it to her. Because of the stellar attention and actions from the administration at my child’s school, it was able to be determined that the student’s intention was not to threaten my child. This incident in fact, opened a door to the student that may have never been opened in order to get some attention and assistance that was needed.
If I were to talk in front of middle schoolers today, this is what I’d say:
My daughter was threatened by another middle school student last week. I’m not going to go into the details about it. The reason is because some of you may be scared hearing about what happened, and others of you may think ‘what’s the big deal about that?’ So, I’ll let you use your imagination. Unfortunately, some of you may have your own experience with being threatened that you can relate to.
I feel that negative experiences at times are perfect opportunities to realize some positives. So, I’m going to focus on some positives. Some of these are general, some are specific.
Thank you to the student, who each day, walks up to my child and tells her something nice to make her smile. Each and every day. We should all be so lucky to have someone think of us and want to make us smile everyday. You know who you are. Thank you for your attention, and for making her smile.
Thank you to my child’s friends. Both old and new. Thank you for the laughter, the good times shared, or just sitting next to each other at lunchtime, those moments are important. Friends are an extension of family, people my child can depend on. Thank you.
Thank you to my child’s teammates. No matter which sport, thank you for pushing my child, for picking them up, for constantly confirming what it means to be a team. Being part of a team allows for a sense of belonging. That is so important in life.
All of you here are a community. Your community became larger coming into middle school from elementary school. Being in a community brings a feeling of needing to protect it. When someone threatens a part of your community, you need to work together to make sure everyone is safe. When you hear students talking about other students, and hurting them, or hurting themselves, that’s a warning sign. Even if you are hoping they are joking, it’s not something to take lightly. It’s not your responsibility to decide whether something is or isn’t a ‘real’ threat to your community. Parents, teachers, principals, counselors, those are the people you go to when you feel that your community needs to be protected from something.
YOU MATTER. Everyone matters. The person who is making the threat, they matter too. Be proud of your community, and work to do your part to keep it safe. You don’t ever need to feel embarrassed about something that you feel scared or uncomfortable about. If you are not feeling safe, or feel someone else is not safe, those are real feelings, and always worthy of attention. Your feelings do not have to match others. If you are uncomfortable with something, tell someone. YOU MATTER.
*You Matter is one of three essential messages used in the aMasongrace project @ amasongraceproject.com.