I look at the most recent viral video and wonder, did the Catholic school chaperones miss a teachable moment?
Teens do not have fully developed brains. They often do not have impulse control. This is scientific fact. This is why we scratch our heads and wonder how could a teen who gets straight A’s do something so stupid?
The human brain is not fully connected until the age of 25. This is why teens need chaperones (over the age of 25) on school trips. Chaperones are there to keep the teens safe and to help them make wise choices.
Suppose you were chaperoning a group of teens. Suppose you were minding your own business in a public space, and someone in that same public space started shouting insults at your group. What would you do?
My first choice wouldn’t be to encourage the teens to participate in high energy school spirit chants. Raising the volume, chanting, beating drums, crowding, does not change people’s minds or diffuse a situation.
Sadly, there are people who are aggressive in our public spaces. There are people who will shout insults in a public space. There are people who will do their best to rile others up in a public space.
I can’t say what the smiling teen was thinking. But I do know that smiling in response to taunts does not diffuse a situation. In fact, experience tells me it does the opposite. I learned pretty early that one of the best ways to get my siblings even more upset was to smile at their anger.
While the insults were being hurled and the drums were beating, the adult chaperones could have leaned into the moment and taught the teens an adult response that was better than the ones on display. A response they could use throughout their lives.
How about ignoring those who are shouting insults or crowding your space? How about huddling together as a group and saying a quiet prayer for those insulting you?
How about debriefing later as a group, talking about how it felt to be insulted and not respond, you know, like Jesus did?