Our view: Setting high standards for Steamboat teens | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Setting high standards for Steamboat teens

We applaud Principal Kevin Taulman and the Steamboat Springs High School faculty for expecting respectful behavior from their students when attending school-sponsored events. The recent decision to have students and parents sign behavior agreements prior to attending the annual Snowcoming dance last week is one we respect, and we think it helps ensure a safe, respectful and fun environment at school functions for all students.

As Taulman explained in a Feb. 3 article in the Steamboat Today, the behavior agreement was aimed at setting high, but very reasonable, standards of behavior for students.

"I think the biggest thing is trying to be very clear and transparent with our expectations," Taulman said. "In particular, the piece we are having a conversation around is this idea of how you interact with other people . . . we want to make sure all our students are safe and feel comfortable."

The agreement went beyond prohibiting drugs and alcohol at the event and also focused on dressing appropriately, dancing in a manner that is comfortable for both partners and treating one another with respect. Basically, it establishes a code of conduct, which if followed, ensures that young people gather together and are not exposed to inappropriate behavior that makes them feel uncomfortable or marginalized.

The inappropriate behavior referenced in the contract doesn't just apply to young women. It could be young men bullying one another or young women excluding others who they perceive to be socially awkward. In general, we think establishing clear expectations of behavior is empowering and promotes mutual respect and kindness — something that we all could use a little more of in this day and age.

Some who commented online about our story claimed that teens should automatically know how to behave, and if they don't, it's somehow the school's fault. We couldn't disagree more. Teachers can't be parents to every student, and we think requiring a contract that must be signed by students and parents is appropriate and could serve to encourage a meaningful and important conversation that is sometimes difficult to broach with a teen.

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As Taulman stated, the school is not trying to tell people how to parent but is trying to address some issues raised by students and parents. And in addition to creating a contract to sign, the school also produced a video that faculty can share with students to offer one consistent message about behavior standards — another great way to encourage discussion among peers.

Making behavior agreements standard practice for future dances is good protocol. We think the practice will continue to create opportunities for more open parent-teen communication and discussions at school about how teens can treat one another with respect.

And this kind of conversation is especially important in the modern era when bullying and incivility can often take over thanks to social media and the emotional disconnect that comes from relying on posts for "likes" and "shares" to build feelings of self-esteem and acceptance.

At issue: Steamboat Springs High School, for the first time, required students to read and sign a behavior contract before they could attend the Snowcoming dance.

Our view: Principal Kevin Taulman and faculty are wise to set standards for student behavior at school-sponsored social events.

Editorial Board
• Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher

• Lisa Schlichtman, editor

• Tom Ross, reporter

• Hannah Hoffman, community representative

• Bob Schneider, community representative

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com.