We never know what is lying on the tracks people are traveling down. Obstacles in the path of life are often man made. If a train track has a bad spike, it can upset the rail and derail an entire train. As we ponder how successful people fail, we can't help but wonder what were the causes. But what if we see those bad spikes on the tracks of those we love.
I am going to tell you a little story. Bare with me. It's going to connect with every single person who has ever had to deal with a person who made it a mission to bring another person down. The bullies, the harassers, the abusers. We have all had them in our lives, in one from or fashion. If we are going to have conversations about suicide, then we must have conversations about the people in this world who push people to a point of no return.
My story starts with a child. A young man, who with his own struggles in daily life, didn't need to have an adult make his struggles worse. While it may sound dramatic, but to an impressionable mind to have a person with authoritative power, be a person of endless negativity and aggravation in his life, its a big deal. While this child isn't perfect, he is a young person who is still learning how to live his life. Throughout the last two years, things said to this young man took its toll. Things like " You are a stain on society.." When called out on the remark, an excuse followed. This was a person who had a responsibility for this child's academic life. An Educator. One that was responsible with the task of writing this boy's IEPs and a person he had to go to for help when he didn't understand something in class. While he fought to keep his head up, this person tried their hardest to bring him down.
In regards to this child's IEP, by law, before an IEP meeting happens, a parent has to have a draft of the actually IEP. A day before a certain meeting, parents were wondering why they haven't received a draft. They had been emailing people for a couple of days, trying to find out why something hasn't been sent home. The response, a day before the meeting is as follows
Educator: " Didn't someone reschedule the meeting?"
Educator: " Well it should have been rescheduled. I am not going to be there"
Parent: " Too bad, We have taken time off of work to be at this meeting. Find someone to be there in your place that works with my child. Also We need the draft."
Educator: " I don't know that I can get it to you today."
Parents: " Not my problem. Email it. Courier it to my place of work or deliver it personally. Not my mess up. "
Educator: " I email it you and call you later about it"
Parents: " Great."
Parents received the draft. Its a word salad. There are spelling mistakes, names wrong, information wrong and a cut and paste from another student's IEP. When Educator called parents later that day, it was asked of the parents to waiver, what is called the "Five day prior", which means the school wouldn't not get in trouble for sending out a draft a day before the IEP meeting. Parents declined. Educator persisted. Parents still declined. Parents stated that this was the worst IEP they have ever seen written. " This child's disability this and this child's disability that.. " Nothing that talked about this child's strengths. The parents sat through an IEP meet that pretty much rewrote the whole document. From beginning sentence to the end period. This apparently did not sit well with the Educator. For the remaining months in school, it was taken out on the child.
The parents of this child always wanted to keep a line of communication open with all of his teachers. That way if there was something that needed to be discussed, it could be talked about. Again this child isn't perfect and when the teachers needed to have a conversation about behavior they could openly talk to the parents with their concerns. The parents had an email chain with teachers so everyone was on the same page. Again didn't sit well with a certain Educator. Complained to the child that they "Wished his parents would stop emailing them because it was annoying and they didn't like it" Not to mention they would single this child out on small insignificant stuff, like giving them a detention for trying to help out a friend who was being bullied in class by another student.
Now with all of this, you all might be wondering how this ties into suicide and the conversation that needs to be had. The final straw for this child, happened yesterday. They received an award for doing a fantastic job on their science fair project. A project that they worked really hard on. Met all the deadlines and aced every portion of this project. An award that their Science teacher thought he deserved. It was the aforementioned Educator that presented this child with their award, with a whispered comment of " You didn't deserve this." While back in class, they asked this child if they had gotten in trouble with their parents over the detention. Child calmly replies, " You can ask my parents as you have their emails", then walked away from the Educator. The Educator then proceeds to scream at the child in front of his class " Don't you ever ask me for help again".
This is an adult. One that works with young adults. Impressionable minds. Again you might be wondering how this ties into suicide. Let's look at it this way.. You have a train. A well oiled, working train. All systems running. It only takes one loose screw or nail to derail that train. In this case, an educator who had a problem with one child, no fault of their own. While the child tried to carry on, it didn't matter. That one person did their best to derail the momentum of this child. We as adults have this unspoken duty to ensure that everyone has a way to succeed, grow and prosper to become better human beings. In the eyes of the youth it only can take one negative person to bring their lives crashing down. Whether it be a adult or another child, a bully is a bully. If you all hadn't gathered, I am writing about my eldest. This has been his life for the last two years with this one particular authoritative adult in his life. As much as we have tried our best to make sure this person had very little to do with our son's academic life, it was either put him in private school( which we couldn't afford) or have to deal with this person. Thankfully, this is his last year at this school and then we move on forward to high school.
In my mind, how dare someone say to a child, they don't deserve something for working hard on something. People wonder why things like suicide rates are up. People wonder why young people are starting to take a stand against those who are trying to tear them down.
Had my son not been the person who he is, I am not too sure how he would have kept his calm every single time he had to deal with this person. As yesterday, we as this boy's parents have lodged a complaint with the school. I get we only have 5 days left, but I am willing to bet he isn't the only student being targeted by this person. If that is case, then this person doesn't have any business being in a job that is supposed to support and encourage our youth, not strip them of every ounce of self esteem they have.
There are some excellent teachers out there that are either getting pushed out because they dare to challenge a system that needs to change or getting burnt out due to lack of support. In any case, it is never an excuse ever to take out the issues being had on the children you work with, because the impact felt by the students can destroy their entire life.