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Model for civility should come from adults


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Negative advertising, reality television and social media have contributed to a culture that reveres sarcasm, rudeness, poor language and incivility.

This incivility has also entered our political platforms and dominated a climate of change in our society. Although it seems entertaining at times, it is my belief that it is contributing to a greater level of incivility within our own community and most certainly among our children.

On a deeper level, these negative factors have also contributed to a rise in stress, depression and anxiety. Recent studies have shown that working in an uncivil environment lowers morale and increases stress, contributing to health issues and other illnesses.

Consider these recent facts from the Global Organization for Stress:

  • Stress is one of the top concerns for U.S. teens between ninth and 12th grades.
  • 80 percent of workers feel stress on the job.
  • Six in 10 workers think stress levels in the workplace are rising.
  • Approximately 13 million sick days are taken each year as a result of work-related stress.
  • Less than 25 percent of those suffering from stress-related issues will have access to effective treatments.

Dr. Gary Namie, co-founder of the Workplace Bullying Institute, asks, “How in the world can we stop bullying in schools, in the workplace, in politics, when it is so close to our national character right now?”

The question is a good one considering today’s students have already experienced a terrorist attack on our own soil, two wars, hostile political elections and an unstable economy that cannot currently offer them hope for a stable future.

I cannot fathom growing up in an unstable world this hostile where many of those in power try to bully others. But these children have. And in my opinion, the solution is to ask those in places of leadership and influence to begin modeling a greater level of collaboration and bipartisanship within our own community.

We need our children to understand that it is OK to disagree; however, we need to model resolutions that demonstrate civility and respect for all. We also need to demonstrate the importance of thinking critically and listening to multiple perspectives.

Peace must trickle down from the top and fall gently upon this generation of children who have known only unrest and upheaval. It is time for these children to experience a world without hostility for quite possibly the first time in their lives. It is also time for them to experience civility and witness influential leaders demonstrating

collaboration.

Are you contributing to an antagonistic environment where bullying tends to dominate our government, our workplace and our daily interactions?

If so, then I ask you to let go of the ego that drives those negative behaviors and begin to create a better environment for everyone in our community, especially our children.

Karen Greathouse is a teacher at Central Middle School and an adjunct instructor at Harrison College.

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