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This past weekend, some serious allegations were brought to light regarding a group (more specifically the group’s co-founder) who was scheduled to visit several high schools in my area next month. The result was the co-founder, who was also one of the lead speakers, resigning. I’m guessing he resigned because his past has been highly publicized in the last several weeks causing major uproar and because his current published writing is viewed by some as über controversial, damaging, and inappropriate.
The above scenario has raised more questions in my mind; questions I hadn’t thought about before. I’m not specifically referring to the above group here, I’m talking about guest speakers and groups who visit elementary, middle, and high schools in general. I’d love to know what you think about these questions and what you think about this topic.
I’ve started thinking more about who exactly are we are inviting into our schools to talk to our children when we invite groups or speakers? Does it matter who they are personally and what their backgrounds are?
Do schools have policies and procedures for screening groups or individuals they are hosting? Should they?
Are each speaker’s actual qualifications checked? How (specifically) are they qualified and have they been trained to work with kids/teens? Does personal experience alone without proper training or experience working with kids seem acceptable?
Do speakers have to have background checks like teachers, parents, and all other school volunteers? Does that seem necessary?
When a speaker does visit your school, are there specific rules about whether or not children/teens can then “friend” the adult speakers on Facebook or interact with the adults out of the school setting? “Friending” school speakers and lecturers seems to be becoming a popular thing to do. Seems inappropriate to me, if it’s the adult’s personal Facebook page, but what do you think?
Are the speakers trained professionals with a clear understanding of their legal obligation to report crimes such as physical or sexual abuse when students disclose this type information to them?
Are there required counselors and experts on hand when speech topics touch on personal issues that may trigger emotional responses from students such as eating disorders, abuse, self-esteem, sex, rape, illness, addiction, etc?
Does it matter if groups or speakers are involved with other groups or companies that the school would not want represented at their school? Are these things even thought about?
I had never thought about any of these questions until this weekend. We are living in a completely different time than when you and I grew up. Kids are on-line Googling whatever or whoever they want and kids are “friend requesting” people we don’t know on Facebook too. (Just for the record: this is not happening in our house.)
How involved should parents be? What should we allow? Should we care about who is invited into their schools to speak to them as role models and mentors? What do we know about these people? Does your child’s school have a policy pertaining to this? Do you think all these questions even matter?