Got a Light?

Our school nurse was in today to talk with the students about cigarette smoking.  She began with a short little Youtube video that I couldn’t help but admire for its genius, yet simple message.  The first scenes were of teens and younger adults (who were unaware they were being videotaped) standing around in public places and smoking.  These are images that are quite common.  But what isn’t common comes next.  A child of about 7 or 8 walks up to one of the adults and asks for a light for his cigarette.  When he is turned down, he asks another.  Over and over we see the adults say no.  They even try to explain to the child how bad smoking is.  They say things like, “It can cause heart disease, emphysema, and lung cancer.”  “It will make you look older and not in a good way.”  “You don’t want to smoke.  It will make your breath stink.”

After a parade of video clips in which the child receives these responses from different people, we see the same child walk up and had a piece of paper to each of the smokers.  It says, “You are worried that smoking is bad for me.  Why aren’t you worried that it’s bad for you?”

The video went on to say that almost all of the smokers who were given the letter thought for a moment and then put their cigarettes out.  Absolutely all of them kept the note.

My students could see the irony in the messages the adults were giving the child.  But then I also think many children get the “do as I say, not as I do” message more often than they should.  I certainly hope the video lingers with them as it is lingering with me.

2 thoughts on “Got a Light?

  1. Videos are a really effective way of teaching. We showed one the other day about perseverance that featured an eight year old who competed in youth Ironman competitions with his younger brother who has cerebal palsy. He pulls him in a raft, pushes him in a jogging stroller, and pulls him behind his bike in a type of rickshaw. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house and their own personal obstacles didn’t seem so great afterward.

  2. I agree that kids often get the message do as I say not as I do. Unfortunately children learn more by our actions than by our words. Just by the fact that adults are doing whatever it is that might not be healthy validates it in the eyes of children. Children want to be like the adults they love and admire.

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