There are times when I find myself amazed and horrified and truly helpless when I consider the lives that some of the students at work have.
And there are other times when it all seems so normal.
I’ve been working at Naughty School for three and a half years now. I’ve watched young people become older young people, usually over the course of the two years that they stay with us. And I suppose that I’ve become ever-so slightly desensitized to the issues that befall them and the way that they spend their days. Beginning this job was a culture shock for me, despite the fact that I’d worked in a couple of mainstream schools with fairly poor levels of behaviour. I suspect that any move back to a mainstream school will result in another culture shock … What? You mean that not all teenagers are fecking b.astards?
These are the teenagers who run away from home and don’t get mentioned in the local [let alone the national] press. They’re the youngsters whose parents sell them [their bodies] for a quick fix, thereby making them believe they can choose to do it themselves for their own quick fix, that it’s ok. They’re the kids whose parents couldn’t give a damn. They’re the hoodies hanging around on street corners because there’s nowhere else to go. These teens think nothing of grabbing knives and other weapons to attack their own siblings. They don’t care about getting into trouble because it’s a way of life for them. Police? F.uck ’em. What can they do?
Legally they are still children. Mentally, despite their outward appearances of being streetwise and hard, they are still children. They are vulnerable, and many of them are scared, or worried, or just angry, at a family or system which has continually let them down. Even I forget that they are children.
I’m not making excuses for them. I look at some of our kids and wonder what they’re doing with us when they come from fairly respectable and supportive backgrounds; I know that eventually those kids will stop fighting the people who care and will become more mature, and develop better social skills, enabling them to achieve some sort of success.
But some of our most vulnerable youngsters make me feel so sad. Is it any wonder that they become so hostile towards any form of authority when they’ve been pushed from pillar to post by parents who neither really wanted them nor who care enough about them to act like a real parent. When they’ve been brought [dragged] up with a different ‘uncle’ at the breakfast table [or in their own childhood bed] every morning, or drug addicts traipsing through the house, or neighbours threatening [sometimes actually doing] to burn the house down, or the police knocking on the door every five minutes, or dad spending just five minutes out of prison before he has to go back inside for a new crime, or no boundaries, or all of the above and countless more things, can we really expect them to be perfect little angels?
We have one girl at Naughty School who is intelligent, funny, beautiful and caring. She could go far with her life. But, at fifteen, she is choosing to escape her baby-making drug addicted parents by falling for the wrong boy [man] and living a life fuelled by violence and crime. And if we don’t catch her before she leaves us in May there’s a possibility that she’ll never escape the cycle of [chavscum] life created for her by her parents.
And that creates such an overwhelming feeling of frustration and sadness in my belly.
I sometimes wish there was a magic wand that I could wave in the air to rid the world of appalling parents. But there isn’t. And I am truly grateful to have been brought up by a truly wonderful woman who was never short of offering me security and love.
please God bless those vulnerable kids who deserve better in life xxx Elsabeth