We Need to Protect our Children From Poisoning Themselves
Novinite is publishing an article by Dave Williams, an Australian teaching English in Sofia.
"Walking to work every day here in Eastern Europe I often got shocked seeing children as young as 8 standing outside the school smoking," Williams says in his message to us explaining what pushed him to put together a series of short videos aimed at making children familiar with the dangers of smoking.
Please note that some of these videos, linked in the last sentence, are not appropriate for children of all ages and it is recommended that only the less graphic ones be shown to young children.
Walking to work every day here in Eastern Europe I often get shocked seeing children as young as 8 standing outside the school smoking.
According to the World Lung Foundation, Bulgaria has the highest number of smoking addicts in the world (except for Serbia)- with the average Bulgarian smoker using 2,822 cigarettes per year.
It is literally an epidemic in Bulgaria.
Walking a bit further up I see billboards right outside the school showing famous actors and musicians using their privileged status to promote cigarettes.
I feel disgusted by these so called stars who are happy to promote a poisonous, cancerous product to children all so that they can make some easy money.
No thought is given by these stars as to what impact this poison has on a child's soft, young, growing, vulnerable body.
Nor do they think about the sadness and sheer pain in that child's parents hearts when they find out their child, their offspring has lung cancer in their twenties or thirties.
There is perhaps nothing more painful than a parent having to buy a casket to bury their own child.
A person's life cut down and wasted for nothing. What for? Because someone famous told them its cool to put cancer in your mouth? And all the cool kids are poisoning themselves so If I want them to like me I should poison myself too?
But why should these "stars" care anyway? They have made some easy money and they are living the good life.
It is not their children after all who are putting cancer in their mouths.
Sure if they had any kind of moral compass they would be ashamed of themselves and realise personal dignity and decency towards your fellow human is something that should never be for sale.
What do we do about it as teachers (and parents)?
Is our job simply to pump them full of information every day, or do we also have a moral responsibility to educate them?
To show them the truth that the government is not showing them?
To support them to grow into aware, conscious, intelligent young adults?
I believe that every teacher who truly cares about their students has a moral opportunity to shield and protect their students from the evils in society.
If we only let cancer pushing cigarette companies continue to fill our children's minds with lies about being super masculine or very beautiful if you buy their poisonous product, and we don't offer a counter narrative - the reality and truth of putting poison in your mouth - then we can expect more and more of our children to be exploited and poisoned by the ugliest elements of our society.
HOW TO EDUCATE OUR STUDENTS
Unfortunately simply giving students information about the dangers of smoking is not working as we can see from the fact that all cigarette packets in the European Union have warnings on them.
Our children need to really see the impacts of putting this poison in their mouths and I believe that the videos above go a long way towards doing that.
In countries like Australia, Britain, the U.S. and others where these images are shown, smoking has been radically reduced down to 15%. In the U.S. it is now down to 8% of teenagers.
These images are perhaps the best shield we can provide our children in the battle to protect their minds and bodies.
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