Monday, 18 June 2012

Why is being able to learn in school a bridge too far for traumatised children?

So you've just walked into school having left your Mum who has just received a threatening text from your abusive Dad, your foster Dad is having to go home and discover you've graffitied the bedroom wall again, your Mum who is going to Salisbury's to buy her morning cider, your Step-Dad knowing that he has threatened to "make you pay later". 

You are 6 years old and have just moved into a refuge and had to leave all your toys, your pet rabbit Bunny and most of your clothes behind and Dad,  He was scary mostly but sometimes he was nice to you so you are not sure how you feel and you want to know Bunny is being fed and cuddled. 

You are 14 years old and thought getting your own home at last and being away from Mum's abusive ex would mean that life would be sweet.  Instead, you and Mum argue all the time, you're at a new school, you keep 'flipping out' and the teachers don't seem to like you and you've got no friends.

Now you are in the classroom and the teacher wants you to sit down, listen and get your book and pencil out.  You can't stop thinking about Mum, Dad, your Step-Dad, Bunny, your foster carers, will I be in trouble, is Dad going to find me here, is Mum going to be safe while I'm not there, will Mum be cross with me, drunk, or stressed when she picks me up.  Will my Step-Dad 'get me later', what's that noise outside, whose that in the play ground, did Miss just say my name, am I in trouble, did he just look at me funny, where's my lunch money, is Mum OK, is Bunny missing me.

Oh no I don't understand what Miss is saying, I wasn't listening, what's that noise outside, I don't think Miss likes me to day, did I upset her, well I don't like her neither.  I can't do this work, I'm going to get it wrong 'cos I'm stupid, Dad always said I was and Mum never stopped him, why not?  Oh no I didn't hear what Miss said, she looks angry with me, now I'm in trouble, don't care, I hate them, they hate me just want to go home.

Why am I in trouble again?  What happened, Miss says I threw my book at Jake, he was looking at me funny though but don't remember throwing it.  Now Miss won't like me, it's cold out here, I wonder when I can go back to class, will I miss break time.  Its my fault, I'm trouble and stupid.  Everyone says, that's why I can't do my work.  What's that noise, did Mum say she would be late getting me today, what if she doesn't come?  It's all my fault, Dad got mad 'cos I was bad, Mum says she needs a drink 'cos I'm a nightmare and she's stressed, will my foster Dad send me away this time like all the others?

A small insight into what a child who has to live through domestic violence and abuse, in the care system, with an alcohol dependent parent, with an abuser goes through all day long and that, along with the way in which their brain is wired and functioning, and with learnt 'survival' behaviours is what they and teaching staff are up against every day.

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