I always ask myself this when I see school children who are clearly struggling, not just with their grasp of academic concepts, but with the fundamentals of life: the kids who are walking down the halls feeling completely alone in the world, the kids who are always sick or always sad—they need us too. They need our ears to listen to them, and they need our voices to assure them that this moment in their lives will not define them. I’ve been perplexed that kids are not getting the assistance they need—not only resources, but attention from the adults around them.
I saw the report card of a child who was having struggles in his home life and had behavioral issues because of that. On his report card each semester were consistent comments about his not grasping what was being taught, and his inability to stay focused. Every grade was “Needs Improvement” and yet, at the end of the year, this kid was passed on to the next grade. What will be the consequences of this? He will be in a higher grade continuing to struggle with his subjects because he was already lost the year before. He will probably not feel comfortable asking for help. This will all lead to lower self-esteem and a lack of useful knowledge, and how will that play out in his life?
We ask ourselves why kids are dropping out of school, taking minimum wage jobs, and getting arrested for petty crimes. It’s because we failed them. We didn’t give them the tools or the chance to succeed. Teachers are overwhelmed with the large numbers of students in the classrooms. They can’t do it alone, and this is why we need more clinical social workers in the schools, not just when there is a crisis, but for every-day behavioral health upkeep. Mental health and emotional trauma can have such an impact on kids, and it’s never good, and it’s never their fault. It is our fault if we, and the systems in which they are placed, are not there for them.