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Talking with children about the election
Sabrina Kapp

In this time of 24/7 news, it might be wise to pause and consider the impact this week’s election could have on our children.

There was some chatter about young children saying very hurtful things to their classmates yesterday. Some of that did happen; some of it did not. But our teachers and principals are aware of what is taking place, and they are dealing with it. Parents were notified. Children had the chance to talk privately, to share their fears, to admit what they’d heard or said.

The interest, the strong feelings and the rhetoric surrounding the presidential election has been ever-present, to say the least. But not just on TV or social media – people have been talking, which is almost always a GOOD thing.

Where it becomes challenging is when it takes place, without filter, in the presence of young children. Children are like sponges. They may appear to be busy playing a game, or reading a book, but quite often they are listening, intently, to what their parents are discussing. And again, that can sometimes be a good thing.

When it isn’t good, though, is when the discussions are about issues that are beyond the ability of young children to process. Or maybe the language is blunt, and young children can’t yet understand sarcasm or even when an adult is simply venting.

We are so fortunate to have truly outstanding teachers and administrators in every one of our Plainfield schools. They can’t see or hear every single word that is said, but you’d be surprised, I’m guessing, how much they DO know.

We are also fortunate that, years ago, a group of Plainfield citizens and leaders came together to create a “Community of Values,” a program that is still taught and modeled and honored twenty years later. In fact, at tonight’s Board of School Trustees’ meeting, we will honor students who were selected for modeling the October value, which is Responsibility. Ironically, November’s value is Respect.

For many people, and certainly many in Indiana and the Midwest, there is great joy in the outcome of our presidential election. But there is also disappointment, despair, fear. Plainfield has long been a community where citizens treated one another with respect, with kindness. Many of us have lived here our entire life, while others chose to move here because we’re a welcoming community.

Know that we will continue to protect and honor and instruct your children with great professionalism. If they come to school afraid, we will do our best to reassure them. If they make inappropriate comments, we will address them. Please think about how you are talking about current events with, or in front of, your children. Their filters are not yet fully developed, and their literal interpretation often leads to fear.