The Larry Nassar case has really affected me. These women who faced this monster are true heroes. I felt the very least I could do was to come home and listen to every single survivor's statement. It was heartbreaking and powerful to hear their words. The judge is a hero, too. She gave an opportunity for survivors to have a voice, to be heard, and to be empowered.
My own reflection after hearing these horrific stories: “I’ve always taught my biological and school children to respect authority. Maybe it’s time I teach them to question it.” There are some awful people in power who take advantage of children. Too often we are differential to authority and learn not to question authority over the perspective of a child. I want my children to have a voice. I want my children to know someone will listen and will take action. I want my children to be safe.
“Inaction is inaction. Silence is indifference. Justice requires an action and a voice and that’s what happened in this court. 168 buckets of water were placed on your so-called match that got out of control”
~Judge Rosemarie Aquilina on the comments of survivors during sentencing
Then, I reflected on the fact that this isn’t just about a horrific predator. It’s about knowing when someone has been hurt, taking ownership over actions, and apologizing. I have had to apologize numerous times to students (and adults). Sometimes I have been short with a student, sometimes I have been sarcastic, and sometimes I have made a decision quickly when I needed to give it more time. The truth is, I have been wrong. The students always seem surprised by my apology. And, they are always willing to accept my apology. Just as I want my children to have a voice, I also want them to learn to listen to others, to take responsibility to act when there is a need, apologize when they have wronged someone, and to take ownership over their actions (or inactions).
Traditional school teaches compliance. It is easy to teach our students to “respect teachers”. It is hard to own up when we have made mistakes. I believe we are different and we should encourage our students to question us. I believe our students learn more from us when we truly listen, when we apologize when we have wronged them, and when we show that we are human. I believe relationships are built when we learn to listen instead of chastise, truly understand someone instead of dismissing them, and take action when there is a need. We need strong youth with voice who are not silenced by position of authority, but learn to value empowerment, responsibility, and action. What do you believe?
“I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it's for or against.”