High School Senior Expelled. Could This Happen at Your School? How to Communicate With Your Teens Using 21st Century Communication Tools

How do you feel about a high school senior being expelled from school because he posted some explicit tweets? Should colleges stop considering him?

Do you have students or teens at home who think they know more than you do? I am sure that anyone who teaches or has a child in grade 7 or higher is saying, “Yes!!”  

For the first 11 years in a child’s life, children believe adults know everything. Then all of a sudden, those children go to middle school and suddenly, they believe those same adults don’t know anything at all!! But that’s typical… par for the course of life. They question authority. They make their own decisions. That’s how they learn.
When we tell our teens what to do, what not to do and how to act, very often kids will dismiss our advice. I think there are a couple reasons for this:
•         We tell teens we understand them. After all, we were teens once…  (“When I was your age”) Teens know 2012 is much different from the 80’s. In their eyes, you don’t understand what it is like to grow up in 2012.
•         The things we tell teens are not “specific enough.” For example, “be careful” doesn’t tell them the exact behaviors you don’t want them to partake in.
•         Teens feel adults “talk down” to them. As soon as a teen gets that feeling, they tune out. They block out what the adult is saying, even if they believe it to be true! 
My goal in today’s blog is to share with you my experience in HOW to communicate with a teen who thinks they know everything!
So how do I know this works? Where did I get the experience to communicate with teens so that they listen? For the last 15 years, I have worked/volunteered in youth ministry with high school and college students. I have been able to create extremely successful programs. This experience has given me the opportunity to become proficient in:
•         Understanding how to motivate teens to attend my programs in the first place! Unlike school, this is not an activity they are required to attend. If they don’t come, I can’t teach them.
•         How to get teens to partake in mission and service work for others when they receive nothing in return.
•         How to use someone else’s experiences by presenting stories that help guide teens in how to make decisions and live their lives.
•         How to be a confidant for them when they need to talk.
•         Really listening to their thoughts. Mouth closed, ears open. Acknowledging their feelings.
•         Making myself available when they need advice. Not telling them what they should do but showing them how to walk through possible ways to handle a “sticky” situation.
When working with teens in my professional or personal life, my goal is to teach teens the “tools” needed in order to become a responsible adult. 
But that does not mean I protect them from every mistake. Mistakes are crucial to learning. Mistakes allow each individual to adjust his or her thinking and actions to handle future situations. Like anything people try to become good at, you need practice, practice, practice.
But there is one mistake we cannot allow our children to make! This is the kind of mistake where the consequences are irreversible. Some mistakes can affect the rest of their lives.
Please take a minute to read this article about a very talented young man. This young man was a senior at a very exclusive private high school. But he made a mistake. Read how his actions resulted in consequences that kept him from reaching his dreams. 
You can see from this article that the coach says he warned his team about consequences of inappropriate behavior on social media. Then how did this happen?
In my experience, we can give our students and teens the “tools” to make the right decisions when it applies to online behavior. I have provided a list of discussion questions for you to use with your students. This is an example of 21st Century teaching we do at Generation Text Online. 
Please use this comment section to share about the conversations you had with your teens. 
Discussion Questions to use with your teens:
What do you think of this story?
Do you think it is fair what happened to Yuri? Why or why not?
What did he tweet? What are the exact things he tweeted that got him expelled? (This is a good homework assignment.)
How will these tweets affect his life? 
Name the exact consequences for him? 
•         His life dreams? 
•         College?
•         Where will he finish high school? 
•         What about his friends at Don Bosco? 
•         What about the prom? 
•         What about his 10 year high school reunion?
•         For his parents?
•         Do you think his parents are embarrassed?
•         Will he still receive a football scholarship?
•         For his high school? What does this mean for the reputation of Don Bosco?
Do you think he thought he would be expelled for his tweets?
Do you think that he thought his tweets would cause some colleges to stop recruiting him?
Why did none of his friends warn him that this could get him expelled?
What would or could you have done if Yuri was your friend?
Let’s get a closer look at the article:
1.       Don Bosco coach Greg Toal said, “There is no question Don Bosco had to do what it had to do.”
a.       Why did Don Bosco have to do it?
2.       Toal said he had cautioned his players multiple times about their use of social media and that there would be consequences.
a.       Do you think the players really understood what he meant? 
3.       Several reports indicated Michigan has stopped recruiting him as a result of his tweets. 
a.       What do you think about Michigan?
4.       “Coaches monitor Facebook and Twitter,” said JC Shurburtt, national recruiting director for 247Sports.com. “That’s all part of the evaluation process. You have 85 scholarships a year, 25 that you can keep in your program. You can’t make too many mistakes or you won’t have a job." 
a.       Did you know college coaches do this? Do you know that college admissions pay close attention to these things?
5.       “Absolutely coaches pay attention to these types of things. You have to kind of crawl inside a player’s head and see how he reacts inside your program.”  
a.       Do you think that your online behavior is a good example of who you are as a person?
6.       "Aside from visiting high schools and talking to people on the ground, social media is the next best personality assessment for many schools."
a.        What do you think about this statement? Is it a good personality assessment?

-- Jill Brown




This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mitch Slater February 12, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Once again the anonymous bullies take the stage. You may not like the messenger , but isn't the message here whats truly critical? I applaud anyone who works towards better open communications for teens and improving safety using social media. Trust me, the cyber bullying exists every night in Westfield- so I ask you Monica, what are you doing to help?
Monk February 12, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Everyone has to be a salesperson for themselves or go hungry. Maligning a neighbor's moral character on Patch is pretty serious. A pediatric physician in Cranford seems to get the same treatment. I hate to see character assassination. It's visciousness always seems all out of proportion with the target's personal presentation. Please put the daggers, brands and scarlet letters away.
NR9 February 12, 2012 at 07:18 PM
I'm happy to see that the shameful attack on Mrs. Brown was removed by either the original commenter showing some remorse or the Patch editors. Here is my trimmed down version of my prior defense of Mrs. Brown. 1. Nothing wrong with someone trying to build up a business doing something that is perfectly legal to generate cash for one's self and family. 2. Social networking websites charging a fee. Well, if her website(s) really are the same as or just negligibly different from Facebook and people see no reason to pay money for this supposedly negligible difference, then there will be no demand for her product and her business will fold in accordance with the basic laws of economics. No need to attack the woman like that. 3. Dances at the Y. (A) If you and/or your children think the fees charged for snacks were too high then don't go to her events and/or feed your children beforehand so they are not hungry at the events and/or pack a snack for them. (B) as for charity, unless you have reason to believe she pocketed the dough and you can prove it did not get sent to charity, you should assume it went to charity. I will now delete my prior comment on the subject and leave this one in its place.
Brendan Galligan February 12, 2012 at 09:59 PM
I too am glad that this site is moderated and that personal attacks are removed rather quickly. Anonymous attacks (or even comments under an alias) are cowardly. If you won't sign your real name to it, you probably shouldn't be posting it. But I digress. I feel that The Patch is more of a community news site than anything else. If you are going to write an article or any other posting that is meant to promote your business, you should state in the title, or at least the first line of the article, that "This is an advertisement for a product/service." @NR9 If Ms. Brown is providing any sort of counseling services, that is a state regulated industry and I believe it is a perfectly valid question to ask for someone's credentials.
NR9 February 12, 2012 at 10:17 PM
@Brendan Galligan. While I could be wrong, I don't think the nature of her services are similar to, for example, a social worker or a psychologist, both of whom, I believe would require some sort of an official credential. As for use of an alias, I agree when the alias is used for the posting of unfair and/or hurtful messages with the intent to hurt another person. However, when messages are being posted with more of a constructive intent, I think there is nothing wrong with letting the message stand by itself alongside an alias. The message can be debated for or against. Those with opposing views may oppose the message. Those who oppose the view but cannot offer solid support for their position may not instead, simply try to bash the character of the person providing that message.


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