August 30, 2010
A Call for Support
I’m not on the computer as much in August, what with summer school having concluded and having to actually parent at least one child most of the day. Early last week however I did have the opportunity to check out postings from my favorite bloggers, and became aware of a chilling incident that took place in nearby CT over the course of several months. It seems that one of the daughters of Kim Stagliano, a well-known autism activist in our community, had been systematically abused by a bus aide (an adult) during her bus rides to and from school. The little girl is autistic, and was further described as “pre-verbal”.
She is nine years old.
This story, as do many in the news these days, simply made me sick. It reminded me of something I learned while teaching in VA years ago, that almost half of all disciplinary infractions occur in some way during transport to and from home and school. I cannot tell you how many times I was about to mark a kid absent when I got a call from the office telling me that particular child would be gracing the principal’s presence while a conflict was sorted out.
None of said conflicts ever involved the bus aide or driver.
Believe me, I know that abuse of this sort, or abuse carried out by children, is not limited only to our most at-risk populations. Any type of teasing or bullying can have severe long-term effects on the emotional well-being of a neuro-typical child as well, can create lasting deficits in self-esteem that are difficult to rectify. My heart goes out to any child who suffers through this, and I hope the ramifications of choosing the path of cruelty for the offenders are swiftly and harshly dealt each and every time.
What made my gut clench however, as I read through Kim Stagliano’s account of what transpired (and I’m asking you to do the same), was one tiny hyphenated word, a detail that might have been lost by some when reading her post. That word is “pre-verbal”. It means her daughter couldn’t tell her what was happening to her, had no way to convey the horrors awaiting her each day, every day, on a simple ride to school. If it weren’t for modern technology and the video camera installed on the vehicle (which, by the way, should be mandatory for every bus), her parents might never have known what was happening, might have wasted precious time investigating other individuals to attempt to discover who was leaving the bruises and injuring the fingers of their child.
Again, I must reiterate. She is nine years old.
So, I’m asking anyone who reads this post over the next few days, to please refer to the link above, read about what happened, and post a reply if you are willing. Writing about such terrible events, and bringing said events to the media’s attention, will not eradicate the abuse of minors. There are people in this world who are hell-bent on hurting others, specifically focusing their vileness on our most vulnerable populations. We simply cannot stop them all.
But we can try. And if even one person becomes aware that yes, indeed, you can be caught and brought to justice for inflicting your own self-hatred on others, we will have done our jobs. Perhaps, with your assistance, this awareness will prevent my children from suffering such a fate.
Perhaps, instead, it will be yours.