Are you a parent of a child or adolescent who has been placed in a negative light by their school district?
If so, you certainly aren’t alone.
In this article, I will briefly discuss the concern schools have with children or teens who are troubled and struggling.
About 9 years ago, I worked in a psychiatric hospital seeing children and teens for a psychiatric evaluation. Many of those kids were coming in at the request of their school district who had concerns about mental health. One child, age 10, came into the DEC – diagnostic and evaluation center of the hospital to see me. He was the sweetest boy I had seen in a while and seemed very uncertain about the world. It was clear he was anxious and felt like a small fish in a big pond.
I felt for him.
Sadly, he was coming straight from his school in an upper-class neighborhood of working individuals who rarely saw kids like this young man. That school district had “hidden” many of the troubled youths by sending them off to mental health programs or expelling them.
It is quite common that parents are called to pick their child up from school on a bad day. But what isn’t common in schools is the dissecting of why a child is having a bad day.
In my experience, schools leave that job up to the emergency rooms of psychiatric hospitals. They aren’t equipped or don’t have enough time to tend to the child in this manner. So they send them off to the hospital asking for a note explaining that the child is “safe” to return to school. This systemic nonsense labels the child and forces mental health professionals to “predict” risk (which we can’t).
It’s a nightmare.
But some schools require elementary level kids to receive an evaluation in order to return to school the following day. Although the reasons vary, most schools are trying to manage:
- Safety: Schools must protect the safety of the child acting out and the safety of other children. No matter how well a child behaves in school most of the time, safety is key.
- Risk and liability: Risk management and avoiding liability as well as lawsuits is important. No school district wants to be sued by angry and hurting parents who may question the action of the administration if something terrible happens.
- Complaints: Because of the recent and previous events of mass pandemonium within public settings including schools (i.e., Squirrel Hill Synagogue shooting, James Holmes, Adam Lanza, Ale Hribal, Columbine Shooters, etc), schools and parents are constantly on alert. If they don’t act appropriately and within the proper amount of time, parents will begin to complain and report behaviors of negligence.
- Another school shooting: We can’t ignore the fact that we have a long history of mass murders in school settings. In order to curtail the tragic loss of life in educational settings, schools must act.
- Negligence: It is the responsibility of schools to protect ALL children in their care throughout the day/week. ALL staff is responsible for the safety and well-being of each child. As a result, decisions must be made and sometimes those decisions make our children feel singled out.
Even though the above reasons may vary by school districts, we can’t forget that schools are there to teach and protect. When they have to “exclude” a child for the simple fact of getting them help, they must do it. These things aren’t always personal. They are protocol.
What has been your experience with this topic? I welcome your experiences.