Teaching at my school is always interesting, but this week I have noticed more and more how pitiful some of my school children are. Now, keep in mind, my student population includes some of the poorest children in our county, as well as a high rate of exceptional children (what we used to call special education). Our children not only lack the mental skills to compete with their county classmates, they also live in one or grandparent homes with little family income. The few “rich” families either come from established farming families or their the gang-related kids. A lot of my kids are affiliated with the Crips and will gladly dance the cripwalk in the halls or show you the latest hand signals when you least expect them. Most of my kids know better to do that stuff in my classroom. I make it clear from day 1 that I will NOT have it in my room. What they do at home or on the streets is their business, but as long as my name is on the door, that space belongs to me and it is neutral territory. The kids don’t mess with me, and most have told me that if there was ever a problem they would protect me.
Where are the parents?
I’ve decided that after this week (and it’s only Wednesday) that the parents are not going to be much help.
Exhibit A: New student in 5th grade. His legal name is ALFREDO Allen. White kid.
Exhibit B: Family of 5 kids gets lice and instead of treating them, mom shaves all of their heads—including the 7th grade girl. Kids now look like unisex concentration camp victims.
Exhibit C: Boy assaults girl this week after she throws a book at his face for talking smack to her in class. Mom wants to sue the girl for “breaking her son’s jaw.”
My heart breaks daily for these students. I have dealt with horrible, horrible things since I’ve been at my school. I’ve had daughters walk in on their daddies raping their older sisters. I have had daddies killed in gang-related shootings. I’ve had kids beaten by their parents. I’ve seen the scars when a dad put cigarette butts on his kids’ faces when they misbehave at school. I’ve seen the scars on a 5 year old girl from where her daddy cracked a beer bottle on her forehead. I’ve seen their visible bruises and I’ve cried with them when their injuries cut them to the core of their being.
It got me thinking today about how hurts and needs are universal. Some people go off to the mission field, but we have needs right here under our noses.
So, my challenge to you is this: We have a lot of local needs that are being swept under the rug because it’s not as glamorous as going to a distant land. What are you doing to help the community? What can you do to make a difference?
(Disclaimer: Foreign missions are AWESOME and I don’t doubt that there are people who need to go and save the world (literally). But stay with me. . .
I think about the teens in our church who took a local missions trip over their spring break. I’m so proud of them and I know their eyes were opened to the things we fail to see because we’re so busy looking at those poor children in Africa and other places.
Hurt is here, too.