It Didn't Happen to my Child, so...

August 23, 2014

A few years ago, my daughter's best friend died of a heroin overdose.  That sweet, funny girl, whom I dearly loved, had shown up at my house at a baby shower, high.  I tried to take her keys when she tried to leave. She fought with me and got into her car and drove away.  But, I tried.  Did I continue to try and intervene on her behalf?  I did call her mother, but I didn't want to interfere in another person's family, that wasn't my place.  I didn't check on her enough after that, I didn't support her mother like I should have because I had enough problems raising my own teenagers.  I didn't try to reach out and talk to her and find out what was going on. Would it have mattered or made a difference?  Would it have saved her life?  I don't know if anything I could have done for her or her mom would have made a difference, but I will always wonder if I could have done more and I truly wish that I had been educated enough to understand what was happening right in front of my eyes.

What happens in a community when an epidemic like drugs takes hold of our children? What do we do as parents to come together and try to eradicate the problem and seek treatment for our kids? What do we do?  We must educate ourselves and we must be proactive.  

What do we do in a situation, like the one currently presented to my home town, where 8- possibly more students have been sexually violated by a teacher?  I mean, is it your responsibility to get out of your comfort zone and rock the boat if it didn't happen to your kid?

As communities, we are all quick to call a group of children "Our Kids" when they win a state championship. They are "Our Kids" when they win Science Olympiad or a Destination Imagination competition.  They are "Our Kids" when they bring home superior ratings at a band competition. So, aren't they still "Our Kids" when tragedy strikes and they are hurting?

It's easy to stand up and call them "Our Kids" when they are winning on a beautiful fall day and the stars line up and the Universe serves up perfection.  But, it's difficult to think of the collective as "Our Kids" when tragedy strikes and it isn't at your house or my house.  Then, "Our Kids" become "Those kids".  "Those Kids" should have known better, "Those Kids" blah blah blah.  I've read some things regarding "Those Kids"- and how they have been put in a position of blame that have made my stomach turn.  "Those Kids" are "Our Kids".  "Those Kids" need advocates.  "Those kids" could have been YOUR kid.

So, let's pretend for a moment, that one of "those kids" was your kid.  Let's pretend that you are the parent who has to ask the hard questions and are wondering how the system failed your child. Imagine that you are at home questioning your own parenting abilities and wiping your tear stained face and trying to read what people are saying about your child through swollen, red, eyes. How could you have missed teaching your child about predators, how could this have happened and you never know? I would be asking-  Why didn't I check her text messages more regularly? Why didn't I ride by that night to make sure she was where she said she was?  Why didn't I stay after late and get there early?  Why did I trust ANYONE to be alone with my child?  Why didn't I put a microchip in her forehead?  Why didn't I see the warning signs that something was wrong?  Why didn't I know something had happened to my child? I would be asking all of the crazy questions right now and punishing myself over and over in my own mind if I were in "those parents" shoes.

So think about it for a second.  Let's pretend.  Now, you are in the position of "those parents"  so that would make THAT child-YOUR child that has been violated.  Where would you begin?  What kinds of questions would you want answered from the school system where this happened?  What kinds of procedures and policies would you want now implemented to protect your child from this ever happening again.

I would want to know the following:

Why does the principal or the superintendent still have a job? If there was one child who had been violated, it would be one thing, but we are talking about 8- possibly more children.  Epic fail- epic. If you failed a private corporation in this manner, your head would've been on the chopping block the minute this news was released.  So, why do we allow educators any more slack than we would in a business? If your job is to make sure that children are educated, safe, and protected and you fail- then you failed your job and you should be replaced- period.  It's simple, really.  I've failed at plenty of things in my life and there is no forgiveness in a world that has no tenure.  Do you think that the manager of Walmart would still have his job if eight women had been sexually violated on the job there? 

What are the procedures for reporting a situation that involves violence, bullying or sexual harassment at the school? 

Can students report things that are suspicious, anonymously, so that they don't feel like they will be singled out?

What is the policy regarding teachers or staff members violating the confidence of a child who has made a claim against a particular educator or another student? Such as- calling the student out in front of other students to shame the student?  A ZERO tolerance policy regarding this should be in place immediately.

Who is ultimately responsible for reports made to the guidance counselor or principal's office? Is there a grievance council that is made aware of these complaints that is made up of a student advocate, a counselor, and the principal and possibly an educator?  This way, checks and balances are maintained to make sure that what is reported is addressed and not swept under the rug.

What is the written policy regarding bullying?  Is it in the school handbook at the beginning of the year?

What is the system's plan to implement a mandatory class on sexual harassment and sexual violence that would be required by all students to attend in order to teach the warning signs of inappropriate behavior by staff or other students?

What is the policy on campus when it is reported that an educator or staff member has been seen engaging in inappropriate activity with a student- sitting in the teacher's lap, kissing, touching in an inappropriate manner.  What is the method of investigation?  Are parents immediately notified? 

And why weren't parents notified about any of this information prior to the children being notified? Wouldn't it have made sense to address parents so that they could be prepared to speak to their children? When does the school system plan to address the concerns of parents in a public forum and how do they plan to share information with them regarding this situation?

Is there a procedure or plan of action in place to ask if there are any further students who have information or want to come forward regarding any other possible situations on campus? 

What outside group will be investigating the school system by doing an internal audit from the top down to find out who knew if anything was going on regarding this situation and when?

Since these are all our children, why wouldn't we all want these questions answered?  As a taxpayer, you have a right to question the people who, at the end of the day, work for you- for all of us.  You aren't being disrespectful to people you have grown up loving and respecting to ask hard questions.  

When there are answers, then your questions merely reinforce the fact the someone has done their job.  If there are no answers or policies, then you need to demand that policies be changed. Demand that people entrusted with your tax dollars and our children do their jobs.

Taking a stand, one person at a time, adds up. Phone calls demanding answers add up. One person alone won't cause change, but one person can be the catalyst for change.  You can encourage your neighbors and together you can make a difference in the lives of all of our children.  And hopefully if everyone does that, there will never be questions that you ask yourself as you lie awake at 3 am wondering what you could have done to have been more informed.  And hopefully, you will never have to ask the question that "those parents" are asking and that is "How and why did this happen to my child?"


  1. Unions protect these creeps. Business people are not unionised.

  2. Thank you for your frank thoughts. They are well received and we should ALL be asking the questions you proposed.

  3. IF he was a union member, the union would represent him-but if laws were broken, no union could save him.


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