The Power of Words

Public figures and celebrities do not unfortunately always set the best example through what they say or write, seemingly giving inadequate thought to the consequences. I will not comment on the political scene, apart from bemoaning the apparent global lack of principled, inspiring and sensitive role-models for our young people. We aim to nurture great and humble leaders at LGS, so I am sure there is hope for the future!

I was, however, recently struck by the report of yet another star who had fallen foul of a trawl of historic social media. I am not a fan of Big Brother, but I note that a contestant has issued an apology after racist and homophobic tweets from 2012 resurfaced on social media shortly after her eviction from the house. We often remind our pupils of their digital footprint, stressing that anything written in haste cannot be retracted and could come back to haunt them in the future – when it will be too late for regret. Like many organisations, we conduct an online search of candidates shortlisted for job interviews as part of our safer recruitment due diligence checks.

When investigating pastoral concerns, we are also sometimes surprised and disappointed by the language used online by some of our young people and by the alacrity with which they will contribute to conversations. That 'virtual’ world, however, is very real and can have far greater harmful reach than a comment made in person. We introduced anti-bullying week by reiterating the importance of being an upstander rather than a bystander in any such interactions. Our pupils should also be well acquainted with the saying: ‘If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all’. Nothing could be further from the truth than the old children’s rhyme: ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words shall never hurt me’. In fact, a lack of warm and inclusive words can also be hurtful.

Fortunately, kindness and consideration are very highly valued within our community, and I am always delighted when I witness the care that most of our children show for each other and the compliments which they share. “Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” (Proverbs 16). A parent at Year 7 parents’ evening said how struck she had been by the thoughtful and friendly way in which older pupils interacted with our younger children.

I am sure that these are values which you share at home, so please reinforce their importance as our young people navigate their way through some of the social challenges which they face. Carefully weighed, positive and kind words make all our lives happier, and it is never acceptable to make someone else feel miserable.

Best wishes,

John Watson