Teacher's Viral Message to Moms & Dads After Florida School Shooting: 'Be a Parent'

Amie Diprima Brown/Facebook

In the wake of the deadly shooting at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, people are scrambling for answers and solutions to the problem of violence in schools. While there may never be one definitive way to solve the problem, a Georgia teacher has an important message for parents about what she thinks might help fix it. In a viral post, middle school teacher Amie Diprima Brown is calling on parents to get involved in their kids' lives.


Brown, who's been teaching for 15 years, wrote on Facebook that every year she sends home a first day of school assignment asking parents to write letters telling her what she needs to know about their child and what makes that kid special or unique.

"[I] explain that I want to learn the child’s hopes, dreams, fears, challenges, etc. ... I go on to say I’m not grading these, not looking at handwriting or grammar and don't care if they send them back with their child, email them, drop them off at the office, etc.," she explained. "These letters have been so beneficial to me as a teacher and getting to know my students on a personal level. I have learned about eating disorders, seizures, jealousy issues between twins, depression, adoption, abuse..."

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But sadly, Brown says parents have stopped participating in this assignment. The worried teacher shared a photo of the thick stack of letters she got in 2003 -- when 98 percent of parents completed the task -- compared with the small pile she got from parents at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.

Amie Diprima Brown/Facebook

The letters, she said, may seem like a nuisance to parents, but they matter. She uses them to gauge behavioral changes, to understand learning disorders, and even to show students that they are loved. "Just this week I had two students lose their mother unexpectedly. Brother and sister, I taught one last year and one this year," she wrote. "As I have done before, I immediately went to my folders to pull the letters that mom sent for her children. It's a beautiful gift that I feel I can give students to get a glimpse into how much a parent loved and adored them."

But it's not just the letters that have fallen by the wayside. Brown says only about 67 percent of her students regularly turn in homework, despite daily reminders, text messages sent via the school's parent portal, and messages on the school's website.

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What does all of this mean to Brown? Parents aren't involved in their kids' lives the way they used to be, and it's making it impossible for teachers to keep them safe.

"How are we supposed to get to know students so that we can identify the ones with the mentality and disposition to become a school shooter if parents are checking out of the academic process? How are we supposed to educate children when their parents don't require, expect, and demand their child complete their homework?" she wrote. "Don't wait until your child is the school shooter to let us know your child is struggling mentally. Don't wait until your child is ineligible for sports or the day before report cards to check grades .... Be a parent. Be involved in your child's life so that you can help them through the issues with friends, the possible suicidal thoughts, and problems academically."

Since Brown's post went up, it's been shared over 78,000 times, and hundreds of people have left comments expressing appreciation for her willingness to call parents out.

Of course, some people also took the post personally, like this mom who said it's so much harder to be on top of things 24/7 when you have a full-time job.

One mom even wrote that she's tried to be involved, only to get flak from teachers for being a nuisance.

There's no doubt that the world in 2018 makes it harder to be a parent than it was 15 years ago. We're busier now, we have to work harder to make ends meet, and there are so many distractions -- technological, political, social -- that keep us from meeting our obligations.

While no one can definitively say that writing a letter to the teacher is going to stop a school shooting, Brown's post is a good reminder to parents to go the extra mile -- check the homework, help with the project, make sure we know what kids are doing on social media and beyond -- no matter how busy or exhausted we may be.

"As parents, our job is to grow the most amazing humans possible. It's the most important job in the world," wrote Brown. "The education and emotional stability a parent provides is priceless."

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