There is a song by the rock band P.O.D titled Youth of The Nation. The song was written in 2001 and depicts three different adolescent tragedies. The first chorus goes like this:
“Last day of the rest of my life
I wish I would've known
'Cause I would've kissed my mama goodbye.
I didn't tell her that I loved her and how much I care,
Or thank my pops for all the talks
And all the wisdom he shared.
Unaware, I just did what I always do.
Everyday, the same routine
Before I skate off to school,
But who knew that this day wasn't like the rest.
Instead of taking a test,
I took two to the chest
Call me blind, but I didn't see it coming.
Everybody was running,
But I couldn't hear nothing,
Except gun blasts, it happened so fast
I didn't really know this kid
He wasn't part of the class.
Maybe this kid was reaching out for love,
Or maybe for a moment
He forgot who he was,
Or maybe this kid just wanted to be hugged
Whatever it was
I know it's because…”
The second chorus discusses the life of a young girl who finds love in all of the wrong places, and the third chorus is about a boy who tries to fit in, but is always contemplating suicide. Even though this song was written, almost 20 years ago, the issues, struggles, and the problems remain the same to this day. There is something that has been missing for decades in our schools and in our families: relationship.
We have students struggling to find self confidence, struggling with anger and mental disorders, struggling with finding a place in this world, and many other tragic issues. Our students are hurting on the inside, and all they really want is relationship. They want to know they are worth it, they are loved, they are valued, and they are wanted. Our students, our children, want to hear this on a daily basis.
Students react based on their emotions. When students feel disrespected, uncared for, or unwanted, their reactions can lead to self harm or worse. However, when students know they are valued, cared for, and wanted, they are provided a place that is safe. In these safe places, students are able to speak about their feelings and emotions they are struggling with. It is our job as educators, parents, legislatures, and society to help our children become the best they can be. We need to let our students know that we see them, we hear them, and we care.
When we decide to build relationships with our students and our children, we will see mental crises start to fall. We will begin to see empowered students who exhibit self confidence, care for others, and a willingness to do what is right. Relationships can save hundreds, if not thousands of students and children, from harming themselves and others. It doesn’t take a lot to invest a moment of time into students and let them know how precious and valuable they are.
So the next time a student, or your child, is disrespectful in class or toward authority, instead of sending them to the office, or banishing them to their room, seek them out and build a relationship with them. I guarantee you will find that they are struggling with something deep inside that you never knew was there. You are the difference between a mentally healthy child and a pain stricken child. Your one moment of kindness, care, and love could be the moment that saved a life; or many.