Many “06880” readers reacted viscerally on Sunday to Drew Coyne’s “06880” story. The beloved and talented Staples High School social studies teacher described his reaction to last week’s presidential election, adding insights into what it meant for teenagers in his classroom.
Among those reacting to Drew’s reaction was Jaime Bairaktaris. The community-minded 2016 Staples grad has been highlighted here before. Among other things, he was an Earthplace volunteer and EMT. Last spring he traveled to Italy to work with youngsters from a disadvantaged Naples neighborhood.
Now he’s a Sacred Heart University freshman. He’s still a Westport EMT, still works at Earthplace, and is also an EMT for Easton (working the midnight to 6 a.m. shift).
And Jaime helps supervise elementary school students during lunch in a nearby town. He passes along these insights into today’s kids, a few days after one of the most polarizing elections in American history.
- Trump’s gonna build a huge wall and keep all the bad guys out!
- Clinton lies too much. I don’t trust her. She killed too many people!
- Trump’s gonna kick all of the immigrants out. Where will they go?
- She’s kind of an old lady.
- He looks like an angry orange.
- Mr. B, you CAN’T vote for them. Promise me you won’t!
It’s confusing to hear these things come out of tiny mouths, on the playground or between bites of pizza.
I broke up verbal arguments between students. They climbed over tables or stood on their toes, trying to subdue their opponent.
But the aftermath does the real damage. When the argument is over students are left angry, anxious and frightened. Nothing upset me more than a crying child. One was legitimately fearful they would have to leave the country. Another cried because they could not understand why their classmate did not see what they saw in a candidate.
It’s eerily similar to what some adults feel now. But these are children.
I know that children should have some exposure to the election process. In today’s world, we have no choice. But when they recite Fox or CNN sound bites, it’s time to stop and let them be kids.
Parents need to teach the process not as if 2 things are up against each other, but rather 2 people.
Kids understand that being mean to other people is wrong. But when a news outlet — or parent — bashes a candidate, a child becomes confused. After a while though, that bashing becomes normal and okay. After all, Mom, Dad or the TV did it.
A child can’t distinguish between a candidate on television or a book buddy in class. That’s where problems start.
I’ve seen what overexposure to “adult topics” can do to a child. I have not found anything good about it yet.
It’s our job to lead by example, be kind to all others, and personify anyone you speak about.
He is a father, a husband, a son. She is a mother, a wife, a daughter. Start there, and build up when talking about someone.
Just let kids be kids.