Family Magazine

Rascist Texts=Serious Consequences

By Joanigeltman @joanigeltman
Kyle Kashuv is an extremely bright 18 year old graduating senior from Stoneman Douglas High School in the Florida suburb where the horrendous school shooting of 2018 occurred. Kyle had high hopes of attending Harvard University. And yay!!!! Kyle was admitted to Harvard!! A dream come true!! Until his offer of admission was rescinded. What could Kyle have done that made Harvard change their mind. It seems when Kyle was 16, two years ago, he and his friends were letting off steam on Google docs, texting each other back and forth. (texts that are unknown and impossible to read from a parent's point of view. (see blog link at bottom of this post for help on this topic) Kyle's texts in particular were extremely colorful, replete with repeated N words and other racial slurs as well as anti-Semitic language. According to Kyle, in retrospect, they were just stupid 16 year old boys trying to be as outrageous as they could be with each other, privately. Except it was not as private as he thought it was.
As usually happens with teens and social media, this conversation was passed around to various friends, cause hey....it was funny!!! and someone screen shot the texts. Cause... you know it might come in handy some day. Well that day came, maybe it was a fellow friend or just another student who did not get into his/her dream school, and was pissed and jealous that Kyle gets into Harvard, an amazing privilege, and how is that fair, after all the heinous and terrible racist and anti-Semitic things he wrote, this student might have thought. And so this student goes back into the texts and photo screenshots he/she has saved for just this kind of thing and sends it off to Harvard thinking/hoping that this might effect Kyle's acceptance. It did! Harvard has been quite consistent in the past when they are presented evidence of questionable moral character of an incoming student. A similar instance happened a few years ago when it came to the admission's office attention that a bunch of accepted boys were making sexist and misogynistic comments about the accepted girls whose pictures they found on some incoming student list. This kind of conduct does not fit with Harvard's expectations.
Kyle is pissed to say the least. He says this is unfair treatment. He was a stupid 16 year old boy, and especially after the shootings he has taken a good hard look at himself, and he is really really sorry. That may be true, but Harvard doesn't care, this is an expectation that is spelled out pretty clearly in admission policy, moral decency and the right to take away the privilege of attending when a moral lapse has been identified.
Has Kyle changed? Does he deserve to be un-admitted? Maybe yes, maybe no. For my purposes it doesn't really matter. What really matters is that kids need to understand that WHATEVER they write, WHATEVER photos they have taken are not and will never be private!!!! This is a very hard lesson to teach, but teach it you must. Revenge is so sweet. And though a teen might have shared these texts or photos with their "absolute best friends" those friends can turn on you on a dime. And when those questionable texts and photos are revealed to people who have the power to make decisions about their lives, the gig us up. It is now out of their control. It goes without saying that all parents hope that the values of respect for all people they have taught to their kids would translate to not writing these kinds of horrible things in the first place. But yet they do!
Ah the unexpected consequences of trying to be funny and impulsive, as many teens are. They do not think before they "speak." Social networking has turned us all into aspiring stand-up comedians. One important lesson though is you gotta know your audience!
Here is the article about kyle and Harvard.
https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/06/17/harvard-rescinds-admission-parkland-massacre-survivor-kyle-kashuv/20bxvExuuedU3uTDmrXeZN/story.html?p1=HP_TrendingBar
"Nearly 80% of employers research job applicants and 70% have rejected candidates because of their online profile." Let the parent lectures begin!!!
If your teen is starting to think about getting a job or internships they need to beware. Or how about looking to become a camp counselor? Perhaps that camp director is social media savvy, and goes on your teen's twitter, or instragram. (you know how teens are so selective about friending people)  If your teen has been posting obscenity laden quips, sarcastic rants or drunken exploits or sexy pics, you better tell them that might not look so good to that pizza store owner or to a camp director, who is looking for a wholesome camp counselor. Or, how about that highly competitive internship, looking for Mr or Ms responsible? I don't think they want to read that "man I got wasted and ....."
Perhaps your teen is will be applying to colleges in the near future.  This is a tough college market. And sometimes that decision might come down to what admission officers have found during their social media sleuthing! Hello Kyle!
This is definitely something that is not on your teen's radar. Someone has to put it there, and it is you!!! As Crosby Stills Nash and Young sing...."Teach, your children well."
Below are more articles about social networking gone bad. Here is how you might use these to teach your kids about cleaning up their act!
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/02/10/texas-teen-tweets-herself-out-pizza-job/
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/magazine/how-one-stupid-tweet-ruined-justine-saccos-life.html?hpw&rref=magazine&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=well-region&region=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well
You might have them read these articles, and say: You  know honey, I get that posting outrageous stuff on instagram is fun, and reading all your friends crazy stuff is also fun, but the reality is that it makes your life an open book to college admissions people, potential jobs and internship employers. I wouldn't want something you think is funny but maybe insensitive or offensive to an objective reader, get in the way of getting what you want. I think it's time to do some "housecleaning." As you go through all your postings, think like a potential boss, or admission counselor, and ask the question: "What impression am I getting about this student, employee from their sites?" You wouldn't want them to say:"wow this kid seems to party a lot, that would probably affect their ability to work, or they use a lot of foul language and sexually explicit language, they don't show much respect for woman or men, I wouldn't want them interacting with my staff, or they seem kind of sarcastic and mean" Help your teens to ask the right questions and send them on their way with a Mr Clean power eraser! And teach them that their friends can be their own worst enemies. Just because they are good friends today does not mean they will be good friends tomorrow. Revenge is sweet!
Here is my blog on google docs! https://joanigeltman.blogspot.com/2019/04/and-you-thought-google-docs-was-just.html
So you have a lot to read. Luckily it's vacation time!!!

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