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06 October 2009

The downfall of being a teacher

Today a student confessed to me that his father beats him.

I know. Wow.

This is a kid who I just assumed didn't have "it." He wasn't doing work, wasn't participating, wasn't paying attention and was consumed with playing on his computer, wasn't passing quizzes. No matter how hard I rode him, nothing changed. I had pretty much thrown my hands up the air over the whole situation.

Today, the situation came to a head. His advisor discovered that he was failing my class and emailed home. Events continued to unfold and I ended up in a room with this young guy, discussing his work. He started to cry and I reassured him that it was no big deal. And, like I always say, I asked, "What's the worst that can happen if you go home with a bad grade?" I like to try to give kids perspective.

When he responded with, "They'll beat me," I chuckled and said "No, they won't."

He responded: "Yes he will. He's done it before."

And here is where I got scared. He revealed that Dad hits him for a lot of reasons; spilling things at the dinner table, using the computer when he wasn't supposed to ... and the hitting included throwing and kicking the child. Happily the counselor was still at school and was able to pull him in and talk about it.

I forget sometimes that these kids, despite their wealthy backgrounds and affluent lifestyles, have real problems and real fears. It's so easy to assume that a disengaged kid is simply lazy or bored. It can really be so much more. Which is the scary part. You never know what is under the surface.

I'm happy that he felt comfortable coming to me, and I'm glad he was able to be heard. It's just scary that he has to deal with it all. And what makes a parent ever think that this behavior is acceptable?!?!
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