There are always two sides to every story

Get both sides of a story before making a decision and find the real truth.

There are always two sides to every story

Someone once said, “Beware of the half-truth. You may have gotten hold of the wrong half.” As our political candidates begin jockeying for position in the race for presidency in 2016, and their ideas and statements of “fact” are slung out like switch blades, I believe it is a good time to educate youth on gaining solid information before making judgments and decisions for themselves.

A vital skill that teenagers can develop is that of assessing information and making rational judgments based on that information. It is also beneficial for them to research where that information came from. Science findings, experiments, surveys and claims are often retested or peer-reviewed for verification. However, youth should also question the reviews and supporters for those findings. Who has backed the research and how were the tests conducted? What other research has been done in that area and what were their findings?

They say history was written by the winners. History books used in many schools often only scrape the surface of the story. They give only a snapshot of the events and often have a one-sided approach. What really took place when Columbus “discovered” America? Were there other “foreigners” on the continent before trading with the natives? What is the real story behind Thanksgiving? What was the perspective of the War of 1812 for the Native Americans or the French? There are two sides to every story and some sides are not recorded or not offered.

The media can also push or glamorize a story. They can elevate the seriousness and fear factor to raise ratings. The facts say you have a greater chance of getting cancer than being bitten by a shark or mauled by a bear, yet we often see this out of the ordinary story headlined on the news. This can hold true for the gossip mill as well. Too often a story is blown out of proportion or information is passed on erroneously. It’s best that youth and adults learn the whole story before passing judgment. Often, the whole story doesn’t come out until the media is long done with that news story. Plus, the media often neglects to report back with a follow up, or they may have gotten wrong information and to pass on additional information about the topic.

Michigan State University Extension encourages you to teach your child to check the sources of information they find in books, from the media and on the Internet. Generally, there are polarized opinions on many subjects and some facts are being left out. It’s best if they get both sides or all sides of an issue. They should also research who or what organization is putting out the information. The site may have a financial or political interest in the topic. Many school librarians can help in finding unbiased reliable sites for your student to use for research purposes. Or, just have them dig a little deeper by checking their resources.

If it’s on the playground or in a research paper, it is best youth have a three-prong assessment to back their statements and help them make their decision. As J. Michael once said, “Remember, there are always two sides to every story. Understanding is a three edged sword. Your side, their side and the truth in the middle. Get all the facts before you jump to conclusions.”

For more information on youth development and additional life skills, please visit the Michigan 4-H Youth Development website

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