It Takes A Village

Time to Be Proactive, Not Reactive

A few days ago I had the pleasure of speaking with a group of parents and educators from across the country. I welcome the opportunity to speak at any event, but I truly enjoy the Q&A sessions at the end of most of my talks.

During this Q&A session a participant asked what would be my advice for helping a student who is quickly moving down the wrong path? He is a smart student but his grades are not reflective of his ability, he has multiple suspensions, his most recent removal was for sending explicit images of a student to other students and because of this problem on campus, he was moved to an alternative, academic setting.

The goal is to address certain areas when responding to questions and this is what I had to say.

The Student — At some point young people need to understand the dire penalties for irresponsible, social media behavior. Explaining these consequences is no longer sufficient. Perhaps introducing students to other young adults who have been charged / prosecuted for similar infractions is necessary. Youth need to understand the severity of this situation and how this behavior will have a far-reaching effect on their lives.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

The Academic Setting — Educational communities need to require all parents / students to participate in mandatory, social media classes if students are choosing to use devices at school. Legal organizations should be included in the discussion so parents / students understand the ramifications of unsafe behaviors. Additionally, schools need to include acceptable, social media behavior in student handbooks and other school sponsored publications. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst; it is time to be proactive by establishing standards and expectations.

The Family Dynamics — Parents are the primary educators. Monitor your student’s Internet activity. If you do not have access to your child’s social media accounts then your child should not have access to digital devices. If the behaviors are similar to those of small children then the student should only have privileges tailored to small children. There is a level of maturity that has to accompany online engagement. If your student exhibits immaturity, interactions must be restricted or denied.

The Support System — In some cases home is not enough and young adults need to be associated with other, positive role models. Free, academic enrichment programs are available in most communities. Look for organizations that offer mentoring, tutoring and enrichment services. Connecting with experienced organizations / individuals is vital when addressing character, self-esteem, maturity, cultural competency, social awareness and future success when seeking assistance. Be deliberate when creating the support system.

What I know for sure: You have to work like their lives depend on you.

Dr. Shanelle R. Benson Reid, President and CEO of ACCESS Global, LLC. is a Consultant, Coach, Author and Professional Speaker. Her expertise is in Education, Cultural Competency, Social Awareness, Entrepreneurship and Community / Individual Empowerment.

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