I visited the 7th grade for the first time of the 2018-19 school year this past Tuesday. We started the year talking about accountability and taking responsibility in an activity called “the Blame Game”.
During the activity, I presented the students with 3 scenarios where a kid makes a bad decision, and we discussed who is to blame for why things went wrong.
The first scenario is about a kid who forgets to dry his soccer uniform and gets held out of his game. Do you blame the dad? The coach? Or is it his responsibility to get his stuff together.
Scenario two is a little more serious. Two boys are stuck at the mall without a ride home and eventually get a lift from an older sibling that has been drinking and driving. There is an accident and one of the boys is paralyzed. Who’s to blame? The driver? The friend that pressured him to get into the car? The mom who didn’t show up? Or it the boys fault for making the decision to get in the car with someone they knew had been drinking?
The last story is about two girls who are supposed to be shopping at the mall, but instead go to a park to meet a boy. One of the girls want to make out with the boy, and she convinces the other girl to go with her. When they get there, the boy offers them marijuana to smoke. One of the girls doesn’t want to smoke, but the other two pressure her until she succumbs. When she starts to smoke, the police show up and catch them all in the act. What could the girl have done differently? Should she have called for help or abandoned her friend before the situation got so far out of hand?
The point I emphasize to the kids is that there are very few times in life when you don’t have a choice. Sometimes the choices may seem awkward or difficult to make, but we are still choosing for ourselves. We are all responsible for the consequences of our decisions, so we might as well try to make the best decision possible instead of going along with someone else’s dumb idea. None of us are perfect, and we all make mistakes. However, when we do mess up, its important that we are accountable for it and that we don’t make a bad decision worse by making another bad decision.