Quick Exit

Managing Public Perceptions and Social Media

Topics: Family

Skill building:

 

PSP families know that the public can be misinformed about the role and actions of PSP. However, opinions and news coverage can still be disturbing. There can be public distrust of PSP in positions of authority. In some cases, stereotypes of PSP sleeping through their shifts or hanging out at the coffee shop are also an issue. Inaccurate or exaggerated comments and images on social media can cause worry and upset. Opinions of neighbours and friends can be unfair and isolate PSP families. PSP families can also find themselves in the spotlight when incidents occur. Public safety organizations can help educate the public, but families cannot control public perceptions.  

 

Things to consider…

Have you tried:

  • Limiting exposure to social media.
  • Monitoring children’s use of social media and TV. 
  • Talking to children and teens about comments from peers regarding PSP. 
  • Seeking mutual support with other PSP families when incidents are reported. 
  • Proactively working on positive education and awareness social media campaigns with other PSP families. 
Do you want to know more about this?

Being aware of the effects that social media and news coverage have allows families to work together to manage the risks. Certain sectors of PSP are criticized on social media in ways that are not easy to ignore. Families who have shared values regarding the importance of the PSP role can provide mutual support. Open communication encourages family members to share their experiences and find ways to respond when issues arise (e.g., explaining the facts to trusted friends and encouraging children to report bullying to parents and school authorities).

Skill building:
Core Family Values

Every family has values, but they may underestimate their importance. Determining core values can help families recognize what they stand for and what matters most to them as a family. These shared values can be used to guide how families deal with challenges, including managing negative public perceptions and opinions. PSP family members often share beliefs about the role that the PSP performs and the importance of their shared commitment. When clearly understood, shared values about this way of life strengthen families. They can reinforce that “we’re in this together,” encourage open communication, and guide action when faced with adversity.

The purpose of this exercise is to discuss and identify your core family values. You may want to revisit your values in 3 to 6 months to see if they hold true or if other ones are more accurate.

  • Play the Family Values Drag and Drop below. Each word represents a family value. Sort the piles of words according to what is “Very Important”, “Important”, or “Less Important” to your family. If values that are most important to your family are not listed, you will have a chance to add them when you pick your “TOP 15.”
  • Once you have sorted all of the piles, consider all the words in the “Very Important” column. Your next step is to decide what your “TOP 15” family values are.
  • The final task is to select your 5 most important family values from the “TOP 15.” These will represent your core family values. Reflect on the importance of these values for your family. What do you do to demonstrate these values? How do these values guide you when you are faced with challenges?

Negative messages from the community and social media can be hurtful. Both adults and children in PSP families can be targeted. When this happens, open communication can reduce the negative effects. Families who share core values may be less impacted by misinformation. For example, a family who values “gratitude” can focus on the positive feedback they get from their community rather than negative messages. A shared commitment and understanding can help take the sting out of public criticism.

References for this page (click to expand)

Carrico, C. P. (2012). A look inside firefighter families: A qualitative study. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing. https://digscholarship.unco.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1088&context=dissertations

Walsh, F. (2016). Strengthening family resilience (3rd ed.). The Guilford Press.

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