Many schools in our country have been subjected to the most horrible and terrifying attacks that parents, including me, wish not to think about. There are many other types of safety issues in our schools that constantly fly under our parental and teacher radars of protection. This week in my school, I found a child with a wrist band with “YOLO” inscribed. YOLO is an acronym for “You Only Live Once.” Last year, YOLO was a craze that students, middle school to high school, would use to try idiotic challenges that were potentially dangerous. Some of the challenges left students seriously hurt or dead. I talked to the student’s homeroom teacher and other teachers to collect their opinions on the matter of the student wearing the YOLO bracelet. None of the teachers liked the idea of YOLO or students representing YOLO at school.
YOLO is a type of group behavioral safety issue that every generation of students posses, and also go dismissed as a type of “dumb kid thing” or “kids being kids.” Unfortunately, “kids being kids” behavior can go so unnoticed that it can take death to finally bring to light the issue at hand. I will admit that working in the news industry at the peak of the YOLO fad has made me more paranoid about it than most people, but is it wrong of me to be paranoid? My parental perspective tells me that I want all of my kids’ teachers to be paranoid about such issues. The approach I used on the student with the bracelet was taking three minutes to talk to the students about YOLO. The student explained that he/she had no interests in the challenges, and that “YOLO was more of a reason to do the right thing rather than the wrong thing because we only live once.” I was content with the student’s explanation and only asked that he/she removed the bracelet and put it away.
My more recent research on the YOLO fad is that students are more into making YOLO a positive ideal rather than an excuse to do something harmful. I was proud of my student for taking something that was once a negative issue and intellectually making it a mature and positive issue. My advice as an educator and a parent is to simply take five minutes and talk to your students and children. If you have an issue about something that you find potentially dangerous, talking can be all you need to make sure the student is not in harm, and all students needs to be deterred from something harmful. Talk to the kids, it is easy and it is our job.