Dear Parents, Friends, Students and Staff
In future years 2020 may be remembered by many different names. In Australia, one of them could well be the Year of Hard Times and Places. We think of the country alight with bushfires earlier in the year, of the people caught by coronavirus, and of the hardship suffered as a result of the isolation that followed it. Friendship and resilience are great gifts. They are in particular need in all our lives and communities as we go through the challenges of 2020. July 30th has been declared by the United Nations as the International Day of Friendships. Our world faces many challenges, crises and forces that undermine social harmony among the world’s peoples. To confront those crises and challenges we need to promote a shared spirit, led by the example of Jesus. The simplest and most effective way we can do this is to demonstrate friendship. This week at school we continue to focus on the value of “kindness.” Kindness creates a ripple effect of friendship. Jesus witnessed friendship in the kindness he showed to others, especially the vulnerable and outcasts. Our students demonstrate kindness and friendship in so many ways throughout their days at school. Adults in our wider world can learn so much from the example of children. They are welcoming, accepting and slow to see differences and to discriminate. Friendship provides a safety net of protection that helps create a better world of unity, love and respect.
Friendship within our community was evident at the Parent Sundowner last Friday evening. We were delighted with the number of parents who came along and renewed friendships or made new friendships with others at our school. We may need to look at making the Parent Sundowner an annual event!
You have blessed us, O God,
with the gift of friendship,
the bonding of persons
in a circle of love.
We thank you for such a blessing:
for friends who love us,
who share our sorrows,
who laugh with us in celebration,
who bear our pain,
who need us as we need them,
who weep as we weep,
who hold us when words fail,
and who give us the freedom
to be ourselves.
Bless our friends with health,
wholeness, life, and love.
Our students are great sharers. A number of them have let their teachers know, over the past few weeks, that they use a variety of social media platforms. I wonder if parents are aware of this? It is important that parents are actively involved in helping their children navigate the digital world and assist with educating them to avoid harmful online experiences. I encourage our parents to consider the following points:
- Most social media accounts have age restrictions which exclude primary school aged students.
- Age restrictions exist because primary school aged children do not have the required level of maturity and resilience to cope with the negative experiences they can often encounter on social media.
- Most young children do not understand the importance of protecting their personal information online. This is an additional risk of having social medial accounts at a young age.
- It is important that parents let their children know that if they share personal information online, it could mean that others, including strangers could use it in ways they may not have thought about. Someone could even post bullying messages or inappropriate photos on social media while pretending to be them.
- Primary age children do not require privacy from their parents online. Please monitor carefully what your children are doing online and talk to them regularly about responsible and safe online behaviours.
Please reconsider the appropriateness of your child having a social media account. There is plenty of time for our children to face the challenges of the online world. Let us work together to educate them first and make sure they have all the information they need to navigate the online world safely. This will hold them in good stead when they join the teenage and young adult online social world.
Best wishes for the week ahead.