In the Bible is the passage about when we were children we acted like children and thought like children but now that we are grown we are supposed to have put away childish things. Some adults seem to be having a great deal of difficulty putting away the childish things. We live in a culture that encourages eternal youth but it's going too far. Just as we need kids, we need adults who can be adults in all the situations that living requires. We can't be kids forever. We have to grow up. We have to firmly take the reins and speak up. For the sake of our children. The following actually happened in my town. It was on the local news. Today.
A young boy of 11 with autism. A school bus. A bus driver who is supposed to be in charge. A bus aide who is also supposed to be in charge. I don't know how many of you have dealt with the challenges of autism but often the child cannot control what he is doing. There are tics, and repetitive speech patterns. Moving of the arms and legs, maybe clicking the fingers or the tongue. Sometimes a person with autism will cry, or yell, out. Or spit. Or do any number of socially unacceptable things. The child doesn't notice that he is doing these things. A person with autism can't help it.
I watched a tape played on the newscast where this child was repeatedly kicked by the bus aide, swatted with a fly swatter, hit in the head, and smacked in the face. By the adult. Who should've known better. While other children on the bus watched(wow.what an example to follow here). While the bus driver did nothing. She was authorized to stop the bus and correct troublesome situations yet.....She told a reporter that 'the kid just wouldn't be quiet'. This was not the first such incident. The boy's father reported that his son had come home often with bruises and cuts that couldn't be explained. The father said the child would come home and shut himself up in his room for hours. The child couldn't even tell his father what was happening because of his autism. Without the bus tapes....would anyone ever have known what was going on?
Our school systems have put in place their bullying policies but no one is enforcing them. The adults aren't paying attention, or, as in this case, they're the perpetrators!
Not long ago, a young man hung himself because he was being bullied. His mother repeatedly brought up the issue with the school system and nothing was done. I suggested that this mom and the family talk to the kids instead of the adults because the kids knew the truth. The kids knew. Not the adults. The adults, if they did know, brushed the situation aside. But kids being kids, even though they knew what was happening, wouldn't just offer up the information because then that would make them targets too. The school system kept telling this mother that it wasn't happening, they had it under control, yet she came home one afternoon to find her son hanging from the rod in his closet, lifeless. And she was rightfully angry, and hurt, and bewildered. What had happened to her beautiful boy so terrible that he had taken his life? Why hadn't the school system followed through? Why? Some questions can never be answered but who among us cannot, even now, feel this mothers pain? The 11 year old boys fathers pain? I feel it.
We have to do better. Children are being hurt, being terrorized, and being driven to desperate measures because we aren't looking, listening, and watching. Because some things are happening that maybe we don't want to see. Don't want to face. Don't want to acknowledge and deal with. We play pretend like children. If we ignore it, maybe it'll just go away? We hope until our hope runs out and we realize we should have acted.
We're sending our children out into the world everyday where there are mean people and evil exists. We need to talk to them more when they come home. Even the most innocent of statements may contain more information than they realize, information that we as parents can utilize to keep them, and other kids, safe. Please pay attention! A life may depend on you.
Pray for our children. Pray for the adults who are making a difference, and pray for the adults who are failing to. I don't know your story and you don't know mine but that should never stop us from praying for one another. Pray for the 'bad' as much as the 'good'. More. Remember the story of the prodigal son.
Breaks my heart. Hope it breaks yours too.
Read more articles by Elizabeth Hale or search for articles on the same topic or others.