So I was going to write about sport and the youth again.....but I've done that. The sad news of Tia Sharp found dead in her grandmother's attic has been playing on my mind.
It is unusual in that this poor girl was found dead, unfortunately what she has endured, and I suspect she has suffered, is not unusual. Nearly 7 years in education has taught me that I know nothing. Nothing of how people live, how they 'parent', how cruel they can be. I didn't really want this to be a miserable post but it's looking that way.
When I first started working in a school I was handed a load of files and asked to read them, to get to know the kids I would be working with. One lad, so badly abused, needed to wear 'protective' pants so he didn't mess himself, one lad so damaged needed protecting from himself, one lad, whose mother continuously rang social services to have him taken away refused to speak, one lad cut himself with whatever he could get hold of, one lad starved himself because his mother told him he was fat, plenty more but I will spare you........so that you know this is in leafy Kent an Ofsted outstanding mainstream boys school.
As ordinary members of the public we have no idea. I had no idea. Some of these kids suffer, really suffer, they go to school to get away from the mental/physical pain they receive at home. Many young lads were carers, in fact in a school of just under 900 boys over 40 were young carers alone. Thats a lot. Managing the house, siblings, parents and then going to school. Many boys were under the child protection umbrella, at risk, factor in autism, ADHD, Aspergers and many other mental and physical disabilities and at least half of the schools students are affected. Back in my day, many of these young men would have been in children's homes or borstal.
I'm not sure we, society, really know what some of our young people go through only when a tragedy occurs do we mull over what that childs life might have been like. What can we do? Very little if I'm honest all the time the kids attend school there is hope, if they disappear then there is very little anyone can do.
There should never be a built in excuse for these kids, they will be the ones down the park this summer, shouting, smoking, fighting. Try not to judge, I dare you to smile at them, give them a nod of acknowledgement, ask them nicely if you want your toddler to go on the swing they're hogging. You may just be surprised.