Week 27 – Stop Slandering My Students


Here is a letter I sent to KOMO News Radio this morning.  The article stated that  a survey by AT&T found that more adults admit to texting while driving even when they know it’s wrong than teenagers.  The announcers repeatedly stated that adults know it to be wrong and still do it.  They implied that teenagers do not know it is wrong.  But at the end of each segment, and I heard it multiple times on my drive to work this morning, they stated that teenagers are probably lying about how much they text.  This really burns me up for, oh, so many reasons.  If we blithely stated that any other group of people were lying, people would be screaming.  Well, I’m screaming.  

Dear Director,

I was fascinated to learn that teenagers are expected to lie.  I am referring to your radio program’s report on AT&T’s poll stating that adults are more likely to text while driving than teens.  I heard this several times on my 40 minute drive to work.  I also heard at each telling, that teenagers are more likely to lie about their activities than adults.  So, I went on-line to look at the original reports.  I did not find, within the research, a caveat about how likely it was that teenagers would be lying.  I attribute this to two reasons: 1) it was not a survey about how much people lie, and 2) it was a poll with no consequences.  Teenagers would have no incentive to lie on a secret poll.

I did find that the number of teens on the road are significantly less than the number of adults on the road.  I also know, from working with teens for the past 16 years, that in stressful situations they do sometimes lie.  However, I have found that the frequency of lying among teens to be roughly similar to that of adults in general.  Perhaps I have just been fortunate in all the different schools I have worked in, but I find your tacking on that extra bit, essentially slandering my students, as supremely offensive.  And to blithely accept that I would buy that garbage speaks badly of who you are as a news media outlet.  If your broadcasters meant it as a joke, I assure you, it is not funny.  Especially on the day when we are celebrating our teens’ commitment to the “WE” program.

Shame on you, KOMO.

Thank you,

Merideth Block

I read it to my students when I was done.  They were surprised that someone would be so upset that they would write a letter defending them.  That made me even sadder.  What do we think of our teenagers?  And, more importantly, what do they think we think of them?


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