For the Children
OKLAHOMA CITY – For those of you who watch Ted Lasso, I promise no spoilers in this column.
_e Apple+ television show, for those of you who are not aware of the series, focuses three seasons on an American football coach who goes overseas to coach an English football (soccer) team. He has no experience with the rules of the game and the show plays out to where every person in the large cast has a moment or more of growth, including the coach _nally learning the rules of the game (okay, one spoiler).
As a coach, Ted Lasso inspires with a folksy, whimsical, always upbeat personality. He is an inspirational leader for the young players on his team, along with the co-workers and management around him. Unfortunately, people like the star, played by Jason Sudeikis, are not as plentiful in the world as we would like.
In the show, “Oklahoma” was a word Ted used in couple’s therapy with his wife. If invoked by someone, it obligated others to tell the “God’s honest truth.” It is time we talked “Oklahoma” about a situation here in our home state involving children.
We have tragically seen reports of recent abusive situations from multiple school districts and youth programs regarding adults alleged to have either performed, encouraged, or allowed horri_c acts involving the children they were charged with protecting.
Adults in admired leadership roles o_en build positively or negatively upon that “hero worship” given by old and young alike. Sometimes, adults in trusted positions lose sight of their responsibility to care for every child in their charge, or occasionally have malicious intent from the beginning.
Ultimately, the best way to keep your children safe is to be aware of the situations they are in and be involved in their lives. Growing up, we were warned of “stranger danger” by being on guard for adults not known who acted suspiciously, but it goes beyond that. O_en, the family knows the most dangerous people, and they purposely “groom” children by growing familiar with the child and placing themselves into a role where they become trusted.
_e Safe House Project has an excellent blog detailing ways “grooming” can happen at https://safehouseproject. org/ It is not just grooming that is dangerous. Hero worship can lead people into dangerous situations when young and old alike are not mindful of outcomes. Reports of young people enacting bizarre rituals of hazing and abuse with their peers, thinking this will somehow build character or make them more mature, have been reported recently. Instead, these actions o_en scar the assaulted children psychologically and teach the abusers to be bullies. Too many peers or adults in authority positions condone, encourage, or orchestrate these actions.
Ultimately, being aware of situations involving your children is the best defense to protect them, and especially conversing daily with them. If you want to ensure your children are safe in situations, take time to volunteer for their activities and develop a network with other parents involved to promote safe situations.
Until we _nd more real-life mentors like Ted Lasso, let’s do our best to grow inspirational leaders from this generation who will help others grow through all the appropriate lessons and care. Be involved and engaged in the lives of the young people around you and keep them out of harmful situations. Let us make “Oklahoma” more than a name of a state or a call for honesty, but also a place that truly protects children.