06 May 2009

Change in the Classroom!

I wish I could just shout about how NO Child should be Left Behind in an abusive situation. I understand, of course, that when we pulled Elf from the public school, that we were leaving other children behind. There are other children going through what Elf went though and much, much worse. I know I can't save them all, but it makes me want to cry.

It makes me want to DO something about it. So I write. I hope you're reading.

Contrary to celebrity yapping on tv today, abuse is not inadequate teaching of Darwinism in private homes. Abuse, REAL and SERIOUS abuse, can happen at home or, as this blog post will discuss, at school. Abuse happens when children are locked in closets, slapped, strapped to chairs, belittled before peers and not having their educational needs met by the people who are paid by the taxpayers to do so.

"The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. (COPAA) today released a report asking Congress to stop the use of restraints, seclusion, and aversives upon children with disabilities in school. The report entitled, Unsafe In The Schoolhouse: Abuse Of Children With Disabilities, details 143 incidents of the use of abusive interventions against children with disabilities in school. The report also includes suggested legislative remedies." (Excerpt of a press release, found on Missouri: Families Against Seclusion and Restraint blog, though I added the link in the middle of the quote.)

Of particular concern is the fact that many of these documented incidents occurred in young children:

"The relative ages of the children can also underscore the imbalance that occurs
in schools between larger, older adults and young children. Approximately
86% of the children were under age 14. Of course, mistreating older teenagers
is as wrong as mistreating preschoolers. Abusive techniques should never be
used with any child or person with a disability--no matter how old they may be.
People with disabilities are often at special risk of abuse. This is particularly
true of children and teens with cognitive, developmental, emotional, and
communications impairments."

If I may...

It's much easier to bully a tiny kid than it is a huge hulking teen. I'll bet you most of these teachers didn't start out their day with, "I think today I'll pick on a little kid and strap her to a chair. That would be fun!" But I will say that during the course of "difficult interactions," the staff is going to think twice before sending my 6 ft. 1 inch kid to a closet. First off, they're going to have quite the physical fight on their hands if they try to make him do something against his will. Second, my son can not only speak, but he can remember faces and names. I'm not going to say he's completely safe. I'm just going to say that it's a lot less likely for G to be placed in a potentially abusive situation than a small six-year-old.

Wouldn't YOU be more likely to "talk out" problems with this great big kid than try to physically force him into a chair or closet? Right now, the staff is working well with G, and most of my concern is for the other families out there. What would happen to families like ours if things fell apart at school?

I hope that Congress listens to what the report says. As much as I believe in local control of schools, I also believe that a child's civil rights are violated every time something like this is practiced. It's time that we protected all of our citizens. These children cannot advocate for themselves.

7 comments:

  1. Marissa has been extremely passive aggressive lately. She has worn out her case worker, the youth leaders and, yes, even me. Her caseworker just called today and offered to help Marissa get placed in a nearby charter school with a Day Treatment Program for children with mental illness.

    My first thought was this school has existed since before I brought Marissa home and no one ever mentioned it. It existed when I was locking up all sharp objects in my house because Marissa was suicidal and cutting herself and no one mentioned it. Why now?

    My next thought was to check it out on the Internet. Parents who take the time to write about such things have positive things to say. The school started with a grant 4 years ago with just a handful of students and now has over 100 full time students. I couldn't find one negative review. But, while I could find no reports of it being used, a special investigation found and reported a locked seclusion room.

    The school has a transition program that will allow Marissa to learn and practice independent living skills, a job training program, etc. It is everything I have asked for to help Marissa become an adult. Marissa could do her entire senior year there and earn a high school degree...

    Why does it have to have a seclusion room.

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  2. Oh, Julie, my heart is breaking for you!! I'm so sorry!

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  3. Mrs. C--I just wanted to say how much I admire your passion and dedication. You are an awesome Mom and I know your family is blessed by you. I am so fortunate that I have been able to stay home with my kids, because I have never had to trust their lives and beings into the hands of strangers. It can be a scary thing. We should all do more to help make sure our schools and systems in place for our children--work the way they are intended, providing a safe place for our children to learn and to grow.

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  4. Ah, America: Where a pedophile is protected against "hate crimes" and children with real needs are abused with tax-payer money.

    May our leaders have more wisdom than they have demonstrated in recent days and years.

    ~Luke

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  5. But I will say that during the course of "difficult interactions," the staff is going to think twice before sending my 6 ft. 1 inch kid to a closet. First off, they're going to have quite the physical fight on their hands if they try to make him do something against his will. Second, my son can not only speak, but he can remember faces and names. I think that you've gotten at the crux of the thing here.

    Now why the schools don't consider these things themselves, and hold themselves to a higher standard (or at least a consistent standard) is beyond me.

    Some in the schools still engage in verbal bullying of older kids, I think because it's always "their word against your kids, and they're the teacher so they're right."

    Joe

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  6. Some schools are crazy enough to call the police and have kids handcuffed.

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  7. Luke, I was just shocked when I followed that link... Just shocked!

    Joe, I know what you mean. G is in a good place *right now,* and *right now* the staff is very respectful. All that could change in an instant. But I am most concerned with the smaller or "more handicapped" ones. Sorry, no other way to put it.

    DF, mixed feelings on that. Usually the cops know a stupid arrest when they see one, though by the time they arrived the staff probably has worked the kid into a frenzy. :[

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