'I'm sorry, but ...'

Editor of the Reformer:

Most of the school kids I work with know that saying "I'm sorry" is only the beginning of what forms an apology. When we make an apology, intended to repair the damage done to those we harmed, we need to:

1. Accept personal responsibility for our role in what happened, without blaming others and without minimizing what happened by pointing to others who have acted in the same or similar manner.

2. Explain why it happened and why it won't happen again.

3. Express remorse for the problems we created for others (not focusing on the problems we created for ourselves) and show an understanding of how our actions impacted their lives.

4. Offer some sort of reparation to help repair the harm done to others.

Both Hillary and Trump have made so called "apologies" for their actions. Making a true apology (vs. a justification) is hard work and requires humility, regret, empathy and a desire to change. Only one of the presidential candidates has come even close to expressing what could be legitimately termed an apology. Just saying "I'm sorry" doesn't cut it. Apologizing vs. justifying takes courage and is a mark of a responsible leader. It's worth considering this when we vote.

Mike Szostak, Restorative Justice Program Coordinator at Brattleboro Union High School, Oct. 12