This has been a topic on the Fragile X listserv for a couple of days. It gives this Mommy a shiver to think what can and does happen to our vulnerable children when they are at school.
Stories range from horrific abuses, death, being locked in a supply closet, never mind verbal and emotional abuse. These are children, first and foremost. Little, impressionable, children. Then add in that many are challenged in some way (mentally, physically, behaviourally), with ASD, OCD, Fragile X, SPD, non-verbal or limited verbal skills & I know that there is no excuse for any amount of abuse.
First Excuse: Teachers are overworked, with limited resources and training to handle “these kids”.
First Answer: That is a societal problem & we need to advocate for more training, more resources and more teachers. We also need for people to stop seeing them as “these kids” and see them as “kids”. As a parent, I expect all my children to go to school in a safe environment, not just the “normal” ones.
Second Excuse: Teachers are human too & make mistakes.
Second Answer: Moms and Dads are human & we make mistakes. And yes, some of us make some horrible ones. We are held to account. Our children can be removed from our care. Why doesn’t CFS come in and remove children from a poor teaching environment?
Third Excuse: The teacher (or assistant or whatever you call them) lacked training to deal with the situation.
Third Answer: How is that my child’s fault? Let me be clear: no one ever trained me to deal with him. No one gave me the tools, professional development opportunities, books, videos or classes to work with Nathan. No one. We’ve been on our own with it. I’ve easily spent a couple thousand dollars on books, textbooks and resources. I’ve learned & grown as a parent but I have NEVER called my child stupid. I have never restrained him, never mind in an unsafe manner. I have never locked him in a dark closet. I have never publicly humiliated him. I should be able to expect the same from his school. For goodness sakes, at the end of a 6 hour day, he goes home. Some parents deal with this stuff 24/7 & they don’t abuse their kids either. I am not advocating this no-training approach. I am just saying that sometimes, in life, you handle what you are given in an adult manner.
I am so very lucky that Nathan is in a classroom with kind, loving teachers who like him. He’s an easy-going kid and his teachers tell me he is well behaved at school. The only worry I have is whether or not he’ll have the language & the communication skills to tell me if he is being hurt. We’ve come along way but he still has trouble making himself understood in stressful times.
If you think I’m a bit angry about the abuses that are happening, you’re wrong. I’m livid. I want to go out in my Momma-bear suit and solve this for everyone. It is disgusting that we continue to see our “special kids” as inferior humans, not worthy of the care, protection and education granted to their peers.
And, don’t think for a minute that our special kids are the only ones who need protection. A little boy in Thunder Bay, Ontario just had his long hair cut off by a teaching assistant.
The little boy (7 years old!) was growing it out for his traditional Native dancing. That’s right. He’s an Aboriginal, so another “inferior human” I guess? The TA has been suspended & the Crown attorney’s office says pursing charges is not in the public interest.
EXCUSE ME? The little boy was abused. He was violated. And this isn’t worth criminal charges? Don’t just see this as “it’s hair, it’ll grow back” nonsense. That hair was important to him. The only person who cuts my kid’s hair is me. According to his mother, the TA didn’t even tell him why she was doing it. The mother claims the TA held the scissors up to the child’s throat and demanded he stand on a chair. Isn’t that also abuse?
Here’s a link to the CBC story. The mom was interviewed on the radio last night. I wanted to cry with her. Please, take this post as a call to action. Let’s protect our most vulnerable, no matter who they are.