The first question addresses bullying, and the second, a family cell phone plan for parenting under two roofs.
I am quite concerned about the shooting in Butler High School, Matthews, North Carolina, on Monday, Nov. 29, 2018. I have a high school son. I live in a neighborhood much like what I understand Matthew’s is. My ex-husband and I share 50-50 custody of our son. What precautions do I need to implement to safeguard this from happening in my son’s high school? My ex does not keep track of my son when my son is with him as much as I do, or at least that is my fear. Surely there are some solutions. Do you have any suggestions on protecting my teen son when he is with his father?
Sixteen-year-old Jatwan Cuffie was in the ninth grade at Butler High School, Matthews, North Carolina. He shot Bobby McKeithan, another 16-year-old in the same high school. Cuffie is now charged with first-degree murder. Jatwan took a gun to school.
In an affidavit obtained by WBTV, some more details are told. The Friday before the Monday shooting there was an altercation in the Harris Teeter parking lot involving some adult men. Cuffie and McKeithan both were at this altercation. One of the men pulled out a knife and Cuffie ran away. Cuffie and McKeithan text messaged after the Harris Teeter fight when Cuffie asked McKeithan who won. McKeithan reported that the other person won. Cuffie claims, according to the affidavit, that he believed one of the men at the Harris Teeter altercation wanted to “get him at school.” Then Cuffie went to the woods to get his gun. Then, while Cuffie was standing on a corner at school on Monday, McKeithan approached him and punched him in the face, and that’s when Cuffie shot McKeithan.
So what do we do about this problem? My solution is that we immediately use tax dollars to place metal detectors at every high school entrance in the state. We need to do this immediately, while we look for other solutions. We have metal detectors at airports. We have them at courts. Many stores have some form of detection for sensors to prevent shoplifting. Are not our children more precious and worthy? The cost of a walkthrough metal detector is not cost prohibitive. I found a walkthrough one online called Metal Defender for the price of $2,145 that takes 10 minutes to set up. The machine had various settings. And we already have school resource police officers at every public high school. It may take a couple of generations to solve the increasingly devastating bullying problems that we have in the school system, although I do not think the only problem in the McKeithan shooting was bullying. In the meantime, while we figure this out, we need a fix for the safety of our children. PTAs could raise the funds if the state will not provide the metal detectors.
Now here are some of the things you can do at home. First, communicate, communicate, communicate with your child. Talk to him. Find out what is on his mind. Engage with him. Second, know where he is and who his friends are.
Given that your son lives in two different households, I would look into whether he has the same friends and hangs out at the same places when he is with you that he does when he is with his father. I wonder if Jatwan Cuffie’s and Bobby McKeithan’s moms knew they were at that Harris Teeter parking lot that Friday night? Third, while this is a sensitive issue for privacy, I think you want to know what text messages your child is sending and receiving. You want to know what is on his social media accounts. Finally, Guilford County Schools states that they investigate each case of bullying reported. So report all bullying to school officials.
There should be bullying awareness sessions or communication with your child. Some resources are at StopBullying.gov. One in four children is bullied during the school year according to the National Center For Educational Statistics, 2016.
My ex and I communicate well. We are trying to come up with a parenting plan for our 12-year-old. One of the things I want to be included in the parenting plan is a uniform cell phone usage policy between the two households where my son will be living.
Can you give me some guidance I can take into parenting mediation dealing with regard to cell phones?
I applaud you for wanting uniform and consistent rules between the two households. That is important for your child in many, many ways. I do think having a family cell phone policy is also important. Here are some considerations for a family cell phone policy that you could include as guidelines for both houses in a parenting agreement.
Rule one: There should be no cell phones in the bedroom at night. Children need sleep. Having a charging station for all household cell phones in one location in the house sends the message that this is the way we do it at our house. The charging station could be in the kitchen, family room or your bedroom.
Rule two: Do not allow the cell phone to be taken to school.
Rule three: No cell phones at family meals and other important family times. Use these for learning to communicate with humans.
Rule four: Restrict the camera and video access on the cell phone. Kids can take inappropriate pictures that can get them in trouble.
Rule five: Make sure that each contact in your child’s phone database is a real person, a real friend or a real family member.
Rule six. Set up the parental controls. Apple has built-in controls that are easily enabled. Android devices have apps available on Kids Zone or Kids Place. Talk to your children about why the control is in place.
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