When you drop your children off at school or daycare, you expect your child to be as safe as they are at home. You expect the teachers, the principal and the workers to protect your children as they protect their own. Unfortunately, that is not always true.
As I sit here, I am worried about my child returning home from a residential treatment facility that she was placed in after trying to kill herself. I worry because she is going back to a school where her attacker is still walking the halls as if life is great. See I just found out two months ago that in elementary school, fifth grade to be exact, a boy who was in her class exposed himself, touch her and hit her several times. He did all this on the playground. Where was the teachers, where was staff? Her previous therapist refused to report it, said he and his supervisor didn't think it was necessary.
I soon found out that this boy has done this several times to other victims, but never has had any consequences, because supposedly "no one has been hurt". How? When my daughter swallowed 9 Naproxen and cuts her arm up as a result of the HURT he caused her. She has been out of the home too many times, placed in hospital after hospital, and I am fighting for my daughter, but the system doesn't want to fight for her. They are talking about releasing her home, even though she just self-harmed yesterday, because the insurance no longer feels the need for her to be there.
So, what happens next? I was told that if she continues to come in, that DHS will be involved to find out what the problem is at home. The problem is I am a single mother with four daughters with has a system that is fighting against me. Meanwhile, this young man who is a budding sexual assaulter is on the local JV football team, involved in regular school activities and is getting outpatient therapy, none of which makes him think that he has done anything wrong.
My daughter is 13, an 8thgrader and for the last 3 years, she has hated herself. The elementary school she attended is closed down, but no one really knows the REAL reason. Supposedly it was due to it being extremely small and not getting any real funding. I remember telling the principal of that school (who is now a teacher at the high school) that my child was being bullied by that kid, not knowing the extent of what he had done. His idea to "fix" it was to call the two in his office (without parents) and talk to them together. My daughter came home that day in tears because he threatened her about telling.
These schools have these no bullying signs up as a decoration or simply because its mandated, but there is no real plan in action. A child being bullied or assaulted is punished, not the other way around. I have people telling me to send her to another school or to move, but how is that the answer? Moving will not stop this growing predator from doing this or worse to another girl. Neither can I afford it.
I am teaching my daughter not to run from her problems, but to face them. I am teaching her that no matter the adversity you will come out on top. She will be stronger for this, but the system cannot be fixed if we do not stand up and do something about it. We have to fight for mental health, fight to protect our daughters and sons from predators and fight for schools to have proper trainings and education.
My daughters' story is the story of so many little girls and boys. Take a look at the boy who was assaulted at a daycare by the husband of the owner. He has 6 counts of felony sexual assault and the prosecutor is telling the parents that they are going to drop the case and go after him early next year. Meanwhile he will be able to be out in the world, around other children, living his life while these babies are suffering from mental health issues and pain that he caused.
We need to stand up and fix the system, all of it. Don't ignore this until it becomes an issue to someone you personally know. Don't wait around until you are faced with this same situation. And don't assume what you would do in my shoes, I said the same thing, and now, that's definitely not the case.
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts, talk to someone. Call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free number, 1-800-273-TALK(8255) connects the caller to a certified crisis center near where the call is placed.
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- An Open Letter To All Victims of Sexual Assault ›