Editor’s note: This note was sent to Teton High School parents and to the Teton Valley News.
VOICE is a group of concerned students at Teton High School who want things to improve for all students. We want all of our students to feel safe. Last spring, we began to address the issue of bullying at our school. We recognize that everyone needs to come together — administration, staff, students, and parents — to find solutions to this issue.
We have drafted this letter to you as parents to let you know some things that we think are important.
We know that you want the best for your kids. These messages are things you should know. If nothing else, we hope these points can give you some ideas about how to address these issues with your family:
Social media is a great place to connect with people but it also allows for cyberbullying (bullying which happens online rather than in person).
— There is a lot of content both appropriate and inappropriate on social media. Make sure your child understands what is appropriate and inappropriate as a sender and also as a recipient.
— Maintain open communications with your child. Make sure they are not being treated poorly; make sure they are treating others appropriately online.
— This is a discussion that needs to take place even if you think your kids are fine. Please ask and talk to your kids. Make sure they are careful about what information they give others online.
— It’s easy to hide things on social media. Social media allows us to connect in new ways. But it’s important to know boundaries and respect others’ privacy.
— Kids should understand that using social media can be good but being mean on social media hurts others. Also, serious topics such as mental health issues can be distorted on social media through comments and memes.
— Parents should consider discussing with younger children the family rules about internet use.
— There should be open communication between students and parents with regard to what the students are doing online.
Take note of your child’s mental and physical condition; get help and take action if your kid is getting bullied or if they are being the bully. Bullying can occur at any age for many reasons. It always requires action.
— If you suspect that bullying is happening at school, talk to the school staff or faculty (principal, counselors and/or teachers).
— Communicate with your child about it specifically; discuss the importance of reporting any observed bullying.
— Bullying is much more covert than what you see in movies. Generally, any bullying that takes place will be discreet and hard to notice. If you or your child suspect bullying — do something.
Cyberbullying happens often; it is a serious problem and more common than you think. People can be ruthless over the internet; cyberbullying hurts people.
— Students can easily hide that they are being bullied online.
— Parents should be aware of what is going on with their child.
— Cyberbullying can cause unwanted pressure and negative thoughts for your kid.
— Teach your kids what is appropriate and not appropriate and make sure your kids feel comfortable to come to you if they are being cyberbullied or know of instances of cyberbullying.
— With your child, set guidelines for internet use.
— Be a good example with regard to your personal internet use.
— Cyberbullying should never be ignored.
What students need today:
Kids need to learn how to be respectful, genuine people.
— Students need to be responsible for the hurtful actions they inflict on their peers.
— They need to learn how to respect their peers and the adults around them.
— They need space but also they need to be monitored and reprimanded when needed.
— Encourage your child to go to a teacher or school administrator if there is ever a problem at school. If there are issues in that reporting chain, the child should speak to a trusted adult.
— Trust between the parent and child is critical; parental oversight can help keep your child safe.
— Make sure your child feels safe talking to you. It can solve many issues. Respect boundaries and enforce safety.
— Be open about your expectations. Be open about how you will be working with your child to ensure their accounts remain safe.
You are part of making a difference.
The VOICE Class at THS