TAMPA, Florida— Parents are sending their kids off to college this week, and with all the talk of hate groups targeting students for enrollment at college campuses, some parents might be concerned.
The good news is, according to South Tampa family psychologist Dr. Stacey Scheckner, parents who communicate with the teens with honest and open dialog are at extremely low risk of being recruited by a radical hate group paying on teens with insecurities.
“When kids are going off and they feel vulnerable, they have low self-esteem and anxiety and basically don't feel connected with anyone else,” said Dr. Scheckner of those at greatest risk. “Even if deep down they don't agree with what is being said, they're going to feel like they're part of something bigger than themselves and feel a connectedness.”
So why college campuses? Dr. Scheckner says young people are impressionable and still working to form their own opinions.
“Students are becoming who they are,” says Dr. Scheckner. “They are rebelling against their parents, they are trying to find their identity. They have independence. They can do anything they want on their own.”
So is racism something parents should be discussing with their kids? Dr. Scheckner says it’s all about timing.
“You don't need to be discussing it with little kids or even middle school kids. They’ve got enough on their plate right now. I think high school kids definitely-- You need to sit down and discuss. What are your views on religion, what are your views on politics, what are your views on racism? You need to have that discussion and see if there's anything in their head that's like, wow I didn't place that there. But that's a very weird statement to make.”
And of course, Dr. Scheckner says it’s so important to pay attention to your kids even when they’re away at school. If you see or hear something that doesn’t sound right, take action.
There are plenty of free resources and even mental health counseling available on campus.