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Nothing Funny About It

I never liked the show although it was touted as “America’s Funniest Videos.” I watched it a couple of times years ago when I thought it was mostly about 1-year-olds smashing birthday cake all over their faces or a cat chasing its tail.

But I soon realized it was less than sweet and funny. It seemed to me the show focused on videos of people playing practical jokes on one other or catching someone in an embarrassing situation. Some of the jokes were not funny. What makes people laugh at someone falling off a bicycle and landing on their head? Does it make you laugh when a child is teased to the point of tears when an adult plays a trick on them? I hope not.

Maybe it is because I have been on the receiving end of a few not so practical jokes. When some fellow workers found out I had an unusually strong fear of spiders, they filled my desk drawer with fake spider rings. I laughed while trying to keep my insides from shaking. Would they have found it funny if I had jumped back and fallen to the floor? Maybe. Again, I hope not.

This week we saw an Ohio County school principal punished with a one-month-without-pay edict after she used poor judgment when video recording a young student who fell head-first from a sliding board on her school’s playground. It was the laughing at that sight that made me cringe. Luckily the child was not injured and we were told that another teacher checked on the child and let the mother know about her boy’s spill. The principal apologized after her deed was outed on social media.

Maybe I am looking at this in a different light, but I can’t help but wonder: What lesson are we teaching our children when it’s OK to do such things, especially when the action is by a trusted educator/leader? Perhaps the only way to move past this lapse of common sense is to have her talk about it frankly with her students. She could tell them how she made a mistake and that it’s never nice or appropriate to make fun of someone. That’s what parents are urged to teach their kids at home, right?

I don’t know the principal involved. I can only judge by what I have seen and heard. But isn’t that what kids do? Isn’t that how they learn, by repeating what they see and hear?

An important lesson learned, I hope.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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