Today is day 10 for the kids, but day 9 for me. I was out on Friday because I had a headache, a sore throat, the sniffles, and muscle aches. I’m happy to report that it isn’t Covid. I haven’t gotten my flu shot yet, and I suspect that I had New-School/New-Student cooties. Unfortunate, but not deadly, so that’s a win.
It’s been a rough first two weeks and I’m not sure what to do with it. My wife suggested I journal about it, and so, here I am typing away. On the second day of school there was a fight in the cafeteria between 2 girls, and sort of a couple of others. Girl A punched Girl B, because A thought B was kissing on A’s girlfriend (Girl C). Girl B was incredible and didn’t do anything about it. Girl A got removed from the school until there could be a parent meeting. Girl B and Girl C had no suspension time. And girl D (who was supporting girl A) never got involved enough to have consequences. Great, right? Silly drama between kids who don’t know how to react to other students because they haven’t seen them or been in a cafeteria in 17.5 months.
Fast forward to Friday, the fifth day of school.
On Friday Girl B goes into the bathroom and Girls A and C are there. (Problem number 1) Something happens, but not a physical altercation. However, it sends basically all of the disciplinary team after Girl A. And no one notices that when the period after lunch begins that Girls B and C are both headed up to the library and into my class. I had expressed concerns about this already, but apparently people thought it had been dealt with.
Girl B doesn’t enter my room. She stays outside and is clearly angry, “shaking with rage” has never been such a literal cliche. She keeps telling Girl C to get away and stop talking. To C’s benefit, I believe she was trying to explain the situation to B and not make it worse. However, C could not hear B saying to stop talking and to get away.
So B eventually punches C. And then they’re brawling. In the library. Neither I, nor my co-teacher from Special Ed, can touch them as we aren’t trained. We’re trying to corral our students who want to try to break it up, while explaining that their intensions are good, but they can’t either.
Eventually we get a student to go downstairs and get people while someone else finds their cell and lets people know what is going on. There is some confusion because the disciplinary team at first thought the kid was talking about what happened in the bathroom, before realizing that he was saying the library. Eventually a team gets up there.
Next problem that I had – and this is no one’s fault because no one wants to work in schools right now – but the people who broke up the fight were all males. Here are statistics from RAINN.
- One in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult.3
- 82% of all victims under 18 are female.4
- Females ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.2
The effects of child sexual abuse can be long-lasting and affect the victim’s mental health. Victims are more likely than non-victims to experience the following mental health challenges:5
- About 4 times more likely to develop symptoms of drug abuse
- About 4 times more likely to experience PTSD as adults
- About 3 times more likely to experience a major depressive episode as adults
I worry about girls being restrained by men. Nothing we can do, only way to keep the girls safe, but it seems like it would be really traumatizing. The thought of it makes my skin crawl, and my students are teenagers. Still, they were beating the crap out of each other and eventually they were stopped. And that was how Friday of the first week ended.
Fast forward to Tuesday the sixth day (no school on Labor Day).
So now it’s Tuesday, none of the girls A, B or C are in the building. But no one has told any of the teachers what has happened. And that is a pattern that continues Wednesday and Thursday. No one came to process with me, no one came to ask me what happened, and no one warned me when Girl C just showed up in one of my classes on Thursday. And as I wasn’t prepared, of course, all the students were trying to ask her what happened, and was she okay, etc., etc. She was fine, and I’m glad she’s not in the same class as Girl B anymore. But you know what, heads up would have been appreciated. It shouldn’t be that much to ask for.
On Thursday, we had been told that Girl A would be back in the building after a meeting with Admin and a safety plan emailed to all of us. None of us received that email. I don’t know if Girl A showed up because I don’t have her in classes, but having Girl C show up without a safety plan was incredibly disconcerting. I was so overwhelmed by the end of the day that I went home, took a nap, and that brings me back to the beginning of this. Head and body aches and calling out Friday because I thought I might have Covid.
I spent the weekend feeling sick over the idea of coming back to this building. It’s calmed down some, but not a lot. I’m really angry that no one has attempted to process anything with me. I feel like I’m stuck in a trauma loop over it.