Kentucky Teacher Warns Parents About the Dangers of TikTok
I have known Rebecca Volk since she was a kid. For years, I directed and choreographed musicals for a variety of youth theatre programs from Kentucky to California. I met Rebecca when she was in elementary school. I'm pretty sure my first encounter with her was when she played "Amaryllis" in a Daviess County High School production of The Music Man.
What I remember about Rebecca from way back then is what I knew about her when she got to high school and what I know about her now as an adult. She always commanded the stage and attention. She was loud, boisterous and proud. Still is.
The theatre does that for kids. I know this because theatre did it for me. I found substantial amounts of self-confidence there when I struggled to find it in other places. There's no doubt that theatre turned me into the self-assured person I am today. I know it did the same for Rebecca too.
And, thank goodness.
Recently, Rebecca, who teaches choir, music and theatre, was reminded of just how important confidence and self-worth can be.
Last week. the Daviess County Middle School teacher shared a video on TikTok. The upload was harmless. Rebecca basically posed this question. Why do some people, after asking you if you need anything (like Coke, water, etc.), perceive you as being rude if you say yes?
Immediately after posting it, Rebecca had "HUNDREDS (literally) of people" making brutal comments about her appearance. She says, They were "telling me how ugly I am, how bad my eyebrows are, how old I look, how I need to lose weight, etc."
Rebecca shared her experience on social media and warned parents to take note. She added, "I am a 28-year-old woman and I have learned to be content with myself. I don't need to be a model to have worth."
But Rebecca's fully aware that kids, many of whom she works with, aren't there yet. Not even close. That's why she felt compelled to share her story with parents and the rest of the public.
Here's a quick sample of some of the random, hurtful comments Rebecca has received on previous posts.
Rebecca says, "If it's happening to me, it is happening to kids. Kids who haven't developed their sense of self yet." As an educator, this is something Rebecca witnesses often and she worries "about them every day."
She adds, "If it hurts my feelings, I can't imagine how kids must feel." And, the truth is, that type of online dialogue, vitriol and relentless critique can lead to serious mental health implications.
Fellow educator Kara Smith agrees. She admits, "I have worried about this so much in regards to my students. I vividly remember being so self-conscious about EVERYTHING without the pressures of social media. Being a kid right now is so hard. Thank you for being so open about this."
Rebecca, for her own mental health, has deleted some of the responses she has received on her content. That's another reason she has felt so compelled to share her experiences.