As an Elementary student in the 1960’s, I was surrounded by caring and positive teachers. They taught me that America was the land of dreams and possibilities. No goal or occupation was outside my reach. Life wasn’t perfect. Student educational material included literature with people wearing gas masks. We were instructed that pollution had gotten out of hand. Smokey the Bear was to be our example in a major anti-littering campaign.
At home, I watch news coverage on the Vietnam War. Once, while at an event on the Ohio Statehouse lawn, I watched President Richard Nixon give a speech, while crowds of OSU students chanted “one, two, three, four, we don’t want your Fu*#&%@ war.” Yet, my overall mindset was that America would overcome all obstacles and be an example to the world that Democracy works. How wrong I was. After service in the Navy, completing a handful of college diplomas, and serving in law enforcement, I found Forefathers were only human.
Now, a divided nation faces a presumptive President Biden and a current President Trump determined to fight it out in the courts. As adults, we may understand the motives behind this dilemma. We realize that our nation is in crisis. But, what about our children? What do we tell them?
Should we shield our children, keeping them away from the news? This isn’t the 1960’s, or even the 1990’s. Today, most people have internet access and 24 hour cable news. Social media provides a pipeline for frequent, tainted news. Even our once trusted news networks seem to be polarized to either ends of the spectrum. What is opinion and what is news? Unfortunately, we can’t shield our young people. We can’t even protect ourselves from the fake media.
I don’t pretend to have answers to these questions. Considering the events of this last week, I am still trying to sort them out myself. What I can share is that we must teach our young people to research information themselves. Tell them that everything on television, radio, and the internet is often someone’s opinion, not fact. Assure the little ones that everything will work out. Tell them that our nation is strong and right will prevail. They have enough difficulties growing up without the stress we face as educated adults.
As for the older youth, teach them how to research answers for themselves. While, not all facts are available on every issue, they can at least attempt to piece together information. I would go a step farther. Tell our older young people that you can’t always believe what politicians say. This does not mean that we don’t respect authority. Instead, we “fact check” what they tell us.
In conclusion, I am not an expert in children or human behavior. These are just thought from my education and experience, influenced by my opinion. God Bless!
Pic: Natural Start