In today’s climate of fear around basically everything, I have decided to take my students out of their comfort zones and have them be pen pals with other schools.
Since I have two sections, I needed two other classes to work with. I hooked up with Katie from Fatty McCupcakes and our classes are pen pals. And I also reached out with a friend from teacher’s college and she put me in touch with someone from her school (she already had a pen pal class) here i Ontario.
Since Katie and I are friends IRL I use our pen pal envelopes to write her letters just from me. She wrote back that her class wanted to do a FaceTime or Skype moment and I immediately wrote back YES! Because that would be awesome. And then I realized that at my school we just don’t have the technology to facilitate something like that. But my VP said that I was more than welcome to send pictures of the children instead. But I had to get the parents’ permission first.
Sure. No problem. I get that.
I wrote up a permission form giving the parents three choices: yes send a picture and here is a picture to use, yes send one but please take one and print it, or no you can’t send my child’s picture.
I had it approved by my administration and sent it off.
The forms started to come back and I was SHOCKED at how many of the parents said no their child could not send their picture!! Like over half of the parents said no. Those students were asked to draw a picture of themselves instead. And even THEN I had a student who refused to do it because his mom didn’t want him to. I made him do it anyway and sent a note home with the picture asking if it was ok (it was). I even had a parent select the “yes but please take and print a picture of my child” option and then actually write “and then delete it” on the form!!!
So my question is, for all those parents out there, WHATS THE DEAL!?
I had a student come up to me and say that his mom said no because his mom told him that the picture was going to get lost and “bad men” from the US are going to find it and call their friends in Canada and come and “steal him”. Because sure, on the off chance that the picture gets lost, and it’s of you sitting with your brother on a bench, someone from the US (or anywhere for that matter) is instantly going to know where you live and who you are and want to come and kidnap you…. WHAT ARE YOU TELLING YOUR 7 YEAR OLDS?!
One parent said yes and then over the weekend was talking to other parents and her daughter tells me that she thinks her mom had changed her mind because of safety. I emailed the mom and attached the photo for her and she replied that it was fine and she was so thankful that I listened to what her daughter was saying and checked in before just sending the picture I had taken since I was given permission earlier.
Now, I am a sensible person and I understand that some of that fear comes from the fact that we are a uniformed school. If they sent a school picture, then the school crest is on their uniform. I get it. That’s why I gave the option for them to send a photo from home. Four students did that. 4 out of 47. And all the pictures that I actually printed, the crest is super blurry anyway.
But for parents to instill the fear of being kidnapped and stolen from their families in their children over such a random thing? I personally think it’s a little bit ridiculous. If the picture was just of the child in normal clothes there would be no way to identify them.
When we started writing our letters, I had a safety talk with the kids. A few wanted to write their home address in the letters. Like their actual house address. And that was a very firm NO. I let them write Toronto. Because we are a very specialized community school, I have students from Ajax all the way to the far side of Mississauga so all of them were told to just write Toronto. That was good enough. That’s an appropriate level of smart safety.
This picture thing has seriously confused me. Like I just don’t get it. Maybe if/when I become a parent I will have a different opinion but right now I think it’s just all a little bit too over dramatic.