When a seven year old tells me,“I want to die.”
When Lily was just five years old she was being asked to leave Kindergarten early nearly every day due to emotional outbursts. When we were told that she had to go to the “student support room”, we had no idea that there was no support in that room. We were not informed that our bright, blue-eyed, blonde haired little 5 year old was actually being put in a closet with several staff people holding shut the “unlocked” door until she raged to exhaustion.
It was not until two years later that Lily was able to describe what had happened to her. “I tried so hard to be stronger than them.” she would tell us with sadness and pain in her eyes. “I hid in the corner, where no one outside could see me, and I cried.” We were getting reports from other upset children who told us as they got off the bus: “They put Lily in the closet again.” But we just thought they did not understand that she was in a student support room. We believed what the school had told us.
When Lily was in the second grade the result of the trauma she’d suffered started to show itself. She could not go into a room alone. She could not sleep in her own room or go to the bathroom alone. She told us, as well as the school nurse, that she wanted to die.
A Mobile Crisis Team came to her school, evaluated her, and determined that she needed to be hospitalized due to trauma symptoms (she’d also been the victim of bullying.)
Lily's discharge plan from the hospital was to “get her out of that school.”
Now Lily has recovered enough from her trauma that her emotional outbursts are a thing of the past. Her Positive Behavioral Intervention Plan includes her therapy dog, Jack, who gives her the security and independence to sleep in her own bed and go to the bathroom by herself.
My granddaughter did not have to experience this trauma. The school simply needed training in positive discipline techniques a' la Dr. Stuart Ablon's Think Kids Program that helps staff understand and have empathy for these children who can not control their behaviors due to lagging skills.
Please, I am asking you to take action with me and help spread the word about the Keeping All Students Safe Act, a bill that will require all teachers and staff working with these behavioral children to be trained, so no more innocent children will be harmed.