May 15, 2014

Violence at School

My son, now in grade one, was punched in the face by a child from his class who is prone to sudden violent outbreaks. Two days later, I can see the stress this occasion has caused. I'm thoughtful about the fact that if this happened between two adults, one would be up on assault charges and my son would have the right to proper counselling for PTSD. I worry about the other kid. I have the full knowledge that their home life is fraught with tension, that another older sibling is as predictably unpredictable.

Two days ago, my child told me about the day's event during a quiet lazy moment out in the backyard. Never underestimate the power of being idle. These are the moments that allow the waters of communication to flow easily.

My son has asked to stay home from school today. He attended some kind of counselling session with the school counsellor and the other child that he didn't really understand. I was told he was helpful at the meeting, but I'm not convinced anyone recognised that he might also require help. I was not told about the meeting, nor informed about the strategy. I am still unsure whether it was an exercise in forcing a kid who doesn't know why they're sorry to apologise, or an attempt to practice restorative justice.

Two days on, my son is showing signs of stress, and I think he will benefit from a day of relative safety at home. His sisters can be cranky, but at least not they are not physically abusive. They've been made aware of his needs, the middle child generously has offered to play Lego and the eldest, in some funk of her own, is keeping her distance.

I worry hard for that other child, the assailant. My children have me, a person who's worked hard at having decent mental health skills and predictable behaviours, when they return home from the world. I know personally how hard it is to be a child who struggles, is not particularly valued or liked by teachers at school, and has no support system in an unsafe home. I know what it is like to be seven and to feel completely alone and unloved in the world.