I do not understand our justice system. Maybe I am just so dumb as to be unbelievably dumber than dumb. Here you have a drug addicted, very flawed individual making such pathetic statements asking for society's pity and it is almost as if he is trying to shift the blame onto a 17 year old girl. He is 41 years old. Let's not forget that. He is also her teacher or was her teacher. As a teacher you have a very serious duty of care relationship with students. What do you do if there seems to be something troubling a student? You are in a school with team of professionals who all have duty of care and are trained different specialities like counselling for instance. I am and I was an English teacher. My role was to teach communication in English in spoken, written forms and to develop reading comprehension in my students. It was not my role to counsel students, except on a very superficial level. If there was something bothering a student or something I could see either through the student's writings, verbal utterances or behaviour that was wrong, I have and did have a duty to steer the child to the student welfare officer who is trained to deal with precisely that. It is also my role to ensure that the welfare officer is aware of anything unusual happening in students' lives.
Unfortunately at the school where I made a complaint against the Principal and Deputy for the inappropriate and insulting way they handled an incident or not just one, but several incidents, there was only one and a half days for the counsellor to be available to students. This is in a school of students many of whom with very high needs in terms of counselling and support. You would think that I would have been able to direct students to others like year advisers or even the Principal of the school. One however has to understand the nature of those I was working with. The principal hated my guts. To him, I was just a slutty single mother (all single mothers were slutty or even if they were not, they were not stable married women) with a teaching degree and not worthy of even the slightest ounce of respect. Women who could not stay married were flawed and suspect, hiding really bad character flaws, because all decent women are married and if you are not married and with a child or children, there was something wrong with you. Very simplistic logic. Where is this leading to?
Well if I wanted to rock into his office to talk about my classes and some of the students and to ask advice, I was not coming to do that. I was possibly coming with an ulterior motive. I could be coming to put the hard word on him. Yeah, sure, as if. Anyway I soon learnt after about three or four tries, that this man would cut me short, with no explanation and go into a long rant about his and Cheryl's life and their kids and blah, blah, blah, blah. It was the most infuriating experience and time wasting that I have ever had in my 18 year career. You know as a teacher you do not have time to waste. You have got to get on with the job. Every minute is and was precious.
I had this girl in my year 10 English class. A sweet kid with a lot of guts considering what she had suffered in her short little life. She was known to some of the other teachers who were very judgemental, as a foul mouthed slut. But let's not go there. Her year adviser, one of the 'brilliant, compassionate individuals' that I was supposed to work with once discussed her future with me and told me she was only fit to be a sex worker up in Sydney at the Cross. I disagreed and still do. I do not like labels. You put a label like sex worker, slut, faggot, homo, dumb, trouble maker on my students my hackles go up. Students have names and personalities that are slowly being formed by their experiences and their peers and they themselves.
This kid had club feet when she was born. She asked me to hold her shoes as she wanted to race in the 800 metres and preferred to do it barefoot. I glanced down at her feet and you could see the scars from surgery. I didn't say anything but she said to me. 'I was borned with twisted feet.You know, club feet.' It was defensive and tossed at me like it did not really matter but it did. Already she has been born with a challenge. But she raced and even though she did not come first, she ran because she was saying to the rest, she could run. Even though she was not the best, she was taking part in the race. She participated and I thought then she deserved medals. She had operations and then there was her family who along with some teachers, just did not see who she was.
She used to be absent from school on Mondays. I found out that she was working for her family at a truck stop and she said she was sweeping floors for twenty four hours and serving food. She got $20 for this work. I spoke to the counsellor. There was not much we could do.
Then I had an idea. My son was around 20 months old. I wanted to give her the $20 possibly $30 for her to spend two or three hours with him while I did corrections. I though she could come to my house play with him for a short time while I worked on my lesson plans and corrections. It would give me a break and she would earn some money and not need to miss school. We made an arrangement and she never turned up. I saw her down the street the next day with a much older man. She was only 15 and this man was closer to thirty than twenty. She was shame faced and apologised. I kind of understood and it was then spelt out for me by another teacher. She was not sweeping floors. The family were using her and gave her some pocket money but there were truckies at that place and another teacher said, well there are stories...I did not want to hear any more.
Sometimes you want to reach out and help young people turn their lives around but they have to want to and conditions have to be right for them to make a change to the straight and narrow. What I did find disgusting was the inference from the Principal to another teacher that my interest in her was unnatural. It was nothing of the kind. Personally I think we should be able to do more for kids like that and we have to show them we care and that there is another way. However, they may not want to change their lifestyle and we have to accept that.
There are many quite sick and twisted people out there, teachers like the man in this article who will abuse the trust put in them and who will try to justify what they are doing because they have abused a young girl or boy under the guise of caring. They are attracted to the vulnerable like this girl who was already self harming at 13.
I know a little bit about self harm. It happens when you have reached such a low point in your life that to injure yourself or cause pain like slapping or punching yourself actually feels good. You are numbed from emotional anguish and the pain makes you feel alive. It happens when you feel so bad that you feel you must be punished and it allows you to face the world again because you know you have been punished for being bad or wrong. The ultimate self harm is suicide. You feel that there is no purpose to your life any more. No one wants you and no ever will. You are a burden on your family and those around you. You are incompetent and stupid. You can do nothing right and some people out there enjoy giving these sorts of messages to others because it makes them feel better. Somehow they are bigger and more worthy than you are. You are stupid for any number of reasons. You are dumb. Etc Etc.You don't think the way I do. We are not all meant to be the same and the only thing that saves one from suicide is a belief that the Creator put us here for a divine purpose and we are forbidden to take our lives. We are meant to live life out to a divine plan. We have a mission in this life and Hashem reveals it little by little. We are meant to live and that is why faith is so important. Without faith, without belief we are all dead spiritually.
That does not mean I do not respect a person's right not to believe, however. I do. I just do not know how they get up in the morning when things are bad. Really bad. I get up because I have to say 'Modai ani' and I have to wash my hands and do other things like look after my son. Many times I see things of great beauty and read things that are very inspiring and I feel better. I think the Master of the Worlds helps me to find a worthier path and to contribute something of worth hopefully to every one I meet. Even if it is just a mirror for reflection.
I make no excuses for myself and I am my own harshest critic. I have to be. I have to be the best I can be.
Now I pray for the young girl who was so abused by this man. Hope that she finds healing and a purpose in life. He has given her a life sentence in terms of what he has taken from her. Child abuse stays with a child. I remember a beating received at four years of age. And more. How much she will remember and how will her life and relationships be tainted by what this animal did. He should be in jail and stay there. It saddens me when a parent abuses a child. They have been given a gift by G-D and they do not treasure it. It saddens me when a teacher or social worker or someone in a position of authority abuses a child or older person.We need to step back and look at ourselves and what is the right and correct action to take. There are no sides and no judgement except what will come.