Our words matter! They hurt when they are read just as much as when they are spoken directly to someone. In light of the recent situation at the Cincinnati Zoo, where a 4-year-old boy fell into the gorilla exhibit causing zoo staff to shoot and kill the 17 year old Harambe, it’s clear we still don’t get this. And, parents, we really need to be the role model here. We can’t expect our kids to follow a guideline we don’t follow ourselves.
Why our words matter
We are speaking in a large networked public.
That comment filled with hateful words isn’t directed and read by just one person. It’s viewed and seen by a larger network of people. Right now, many comments and images are being shared. When you are tempted to post something in anger, directed at someone, ask yourself, “Would I condone my child using those same words and tone?”
There is a child involved.
The hateful comments and images are becoming part of this 4 year old’s digital footprint. Think about that. Put your child in his place. The chances that this boy might read the firestorm of comments written about him when he is older is high. How terrible might that be for him?
We can voice our opinions in a civil manner.
That’s what we need to be modeling for our kids. Take a side. Show kids how to advocate respectfully. Our words matter and they can be used to take a stand in a positive way.
We can use horrific situations to reinforce lessons to our kids.
If your kids have learned about this tragic situation, help them process it by talking about it. Talk about safety when visiting zoos and museums. Talk about the importance of respecting spaces where they should not wander. Talk to them also about appropriate ways to voice concerns with businesses and public places. And, help them understand the importance of gathering as much information as they can on an issue. It’s easy for things to snowball into Internet mob justice. Once it starts, things get out of control and it’s hard to sort through fact and fiction. It’s mostly emotion.
Give your kid a hug today and tell them “I love you.” Those are words they need to hear daily! Our words matter, make them count!