Just outside Wichita Falls, TX is Bulldog Country - Burkburnett, TX. After a student suicide last year, I was invited to speak to the teachers and staff members in August.
I was invited back to speak to the high school students in February 2019. Before my visit, I had received some nasty messages from a couple of parents who claimed their kids were victims of bullying. They also wanted to negatively portray the schools and the administration as not doing anything to protect their children and thought I needed to know.
I arrived on campus and spent 90 minutes talking to 900 high school students in the gymnasium. The kids were excellent. The staff was also excellent and very complimentary.
I didn’t spend a lot of time talking about the young man who took his life. His classmates are now juniors. It wasn’t my place on a Wednesday afternoon to talk much about the loss. It would have been irresponsible for me to go there and potentially leave pieces that couldn’t be picked up as the students left school.
I addressed the students in the here and the now . . . where they were now. I asked them, “Who are you? Where do you want to go?” It was there that I started talking about life: Attitude, Choices, Behavior, Self-Esteem, Mental and Physical Health . . . I wanted to give them hope and inspiration. I talked about personal responsibility.
I captivated the student body of 900 students in their gymnasium. They made their teachers proud. Thank you Burkburnett for letting me be a part of your lives.
Before the day ended, Channel 3 News wanted to interview me and talk about the work Burkburnett Schools is doing around the topic of mental health and suicide prevention. We need more people talking about out this epidemic.
By time of the parent program, Channel 3 and Channel 6 were both there to cover the parent event.
Before the parent program, I toured the campus and couldn’t help but notice how much this school offered its students with the many extra-curricular activities offered. Aside from sports and the incredible facilities they had, I also noticed FFA, Marching Band, ROTC and more.
The Boys and Girls Club next door had a skate park. This is a community that offers a lot for their youth. The schools have plenty to offer for the students. As for bullying and the school not doing enough, I couldn’t be more impressed with Bulldog Pride, the staff, the students, and the administration.
In response to the letters and messages from the few people in the community, I have a question for you . . . Do you really think this school community is not doing anything to protect your children?
What are you doing as a parent instead of expecting the school to fix these problems? I can tell you from the depths of my heart and soul that we have no place in our schools for these behaviors and I know every school has a zero tolerance policy - but aside from the laws that haven’t caught up with bullying and Cyberbullying, I can tell you this: this is an issue for parents more than it is the schools responsibility.
Two of the biggest problems with our children and youth today is their lack of problem-solving abilities and their coping skills. We can’t coddle our children and make them feel they’re always right and everyone else is wrong. These are life skills they’re going to have to figure out, and not everyone is going to like them.
As a visitor to Burkburnett High School on two separate occasions, I found the staff very caring and attentive. I found the administration very involved and on top of things. I found the students very respectful and polite.
This is another school community that I was impressed with and honored to work with.
Thank you Burkburnett School Community. I wish you the very best today, tomorrow, and in your future endeavors.
Jeff Yalden is a mental health expert and speaker for teens, school communities, and counselors. He also speaks to mental health professionals and professional development conferences. Visit his website today.
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