Recently a beloved school teacher in Kansas City, KS was fired for making an inappropriate comment in the classroom. The teacher made a “bad” joke that pushed the limit of acceptable classroom banter.
What happened next, however, was truly unique. Upon hearing that the teacher was suspended, his eighth grade students came together to protest. Utilizing modern day technology such as texting and Facebook, they organized more than fifty kids to picket the school, gathered parents to attend district meetings, and created a 200 plus person fan page on Facebook to support their cause. These tenacious, tech savvy teens took on the system!
Behaviorally, these students involved themselves in a positive risk taking exercise. Risk-taking, in general, refers to the tendency to engage in behaviors that may potentially be harmful or dangerous, yet, at the same time, provide the opportunity for some kind of perceived positive outcome. More often we hear about teenagers who engage in negative risky behaviors such as drug and alcohol use; however, there are also many students like the ones described above who push limits by participating in positive risk taking activities such as protesting for a cause.
What is so unique about positive risk taking is that it can be a powerful and transformational process that encourages more positive behavior. In fact, teens who engage in these types of risks are more likely to avoid alcohol, drugs, and other dangerous activities than teens who do not push themselves to try new and appropriate things (Teens Today, 2004). Encourage your teens to step outside their comfort zone and see the postive benefits that result.
Interested in how the story ends, read the Kansas City Star newspaper article , who interviewed me to discuss the psychology and motivation of these unique teens who took on the system.