Your Kids Are Watching…

Recently, I was at a public pool. There was a woman in the pool who was incredibly inebriated and wouldn’t get out. Making matters worse, the women was there with who I assume was her daughter, around the age of 10. The police were contacted and found pills and vodka in her purse. She was eventually handcuffed because she attempted to run away. This a truncated version of events, but the entire spectacle played out in front of everyone at the pool, kids and adults. The heart-breaking thing was that the daughter—who was now alone—witnessed it all.

What does this have to do with hashtag parenting?!

 A group of four women with their children of all different ages were off to the side of the pool witnessing this. Law enforcement eventually escorted the handcuffed mother out of the pool area. Two of the women stood up, took out their phones, and took a video of the mother being escorted away in handcuffs while LAUGHING. Their children were watching them laugh and take video, and worse, the daughter was watching them.

In my sexting class, I teach about the bystander effect and bystander interventions. The bystander effect is the greater number of people present the higher the likelihood no one will do anything. The 2019 definition should be amended: the greater number of people present the higher the likelihood no one will do anything except take out their phone and video what is happening.

To the parents who feel the need to video others’ hardships

 A lesson on empathy: ADDICTION ISN’T FUNNY. It deviates the person’s life and the lives of those around them. And addicts overwhelmingly report previously experiencing physical or sexual trauma during childhood.

Trauma and child abuse are precursors to addiction. Put down your damn phones and focus on your own family instead of laughing at someone else’s misfortunes. Your children are watching you, teach them kindness and compassion for others.

For those who want to teach their kids to be upstanders and not bystanders

  • Encourage your kids not to video others
  • If they see something, they are not okay with, say something
  • If they’re not comfortable stepping in alone, ask others to intervene with them
  • If they’re not comfortable stepping in, go get someone with more power to step in
  • If it’s on social media, don’t like or share negativity
  • Remind them that if something was happening to them, they would want someone to help them, not video them

I hope that mother is getting the help she needs, and I hope that little girl is in a safe place.

I really was tempted to pull out my phone and take a video of those women and ask how they liked it. Instead, I’m blogging on the topic and hoping this makes someone think twice before they reach for their phone, and talk to their child about this topic. Thanks for listening #parents.

Cheryl Kosmerl, MSW, LCSW

Cheryl Kosmerl, MSW, LCSW

I'm a clinical social worker and child advocate. After more than 20 years of working with children and adolescents in a variety of settings I created Sexting Solutions, a successful program designed to teach kids to respect themselves and others, show empathy and stop abuse. Intended as an alternative to legal consequences for kids who were caught sexting, it focuses on building skills that develop a solid foundation for healthier adolescent years and beyond. Connect with me on LinkedIn by clicking the icon directly below.