A.B. PATERSON COLLEGE
GOLD COAST, QUEENSLAND

Illalong News

  • 1st June, 2018

From the Principal's Desk

Goodness is about character - integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.   Dennis Prager

Sitting here writing this newsletter so close to the end of Term, I must admit being glad for it to be the end of the week.

As you are aware, our community received an anonymous online threat on Tuesday morning. As previously explained, I called the Police and was directed to place the school into lockdown. I will not repeat all that has already been released and am unable to comment further on this matter, other than to say that the Police have now charged two youths – one with one count of ‘use of a carriage service to make a threat, harass or cause offence’ and a second with ‘threatening violence’.

There are many lessons here, and as distressing as this was and has been, it is an important discussion and learning point for all.

We all need to remember that we are, and should be, held accountable for the things we say and do. Making threats to hurt another is not a joke. This is the most common phrase I have ever heard … “but I was only joking”. We need to make clear to our children that some things are simply not a joke. The dictionary defines a joke as “a thing that someone says to cause amusement or laughter, especially a story with a funny punchline”. Threatening violence against another can never be considered a joke.

This is often a throw-away line used when young people actually mean “I did not really mean it”. They need to learn not to say things they do not mean, as others can interpret them quite literally.

Young people in society need to have reinforced that “Goodness is about character - integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.”

Young people need to be taught to behave with good character, to be true to themselves and others, to represent all situations with honesty, and always act with good faith. In fact, sometimes adults themselves need to reflect on these principles and the role model we present to our children and those around us.

The cost of these hoaxes (in both North Lakes and at our College) to our Police Service must run into the tens of thousands, not even counting the cost to each individual school. Even more worrying is the distraction of our Police Service in tending to such matters, when they have so many other matters to deal with.

Young people make mistakes – agreed; but the impact of actions like these are far reaching, and realistically far beyond that which most people realise. When such things happen in society, they can be a teachable moment with our children as we explain what someone did, the impact and why they were wrong. In doing so, we can hopefully raise a teachable moment with our children and have them learn from someone else’s mistakes.

Events like these are never black and white. Regardless, when a person does not act in good faith and with good character, there is and should be a consequence for the behaviour. I urge all parents to talk to their children about the things they say to other children, the things they post on social media and the fact that, while they may believe their posts are anonymous, in the cyberworld no keystroke is ever truly anonymous!

Brian Grimes
Principal

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