Let’s love our children

July 11, 2016 , In: TEACH
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Whose heart isn’t wrenched when stories of child abuse are recounted?

At our staff professional development today it was so disheartening to hear the statistics.

  • 54,000 substantiated claims of child abuse in 2014, affecting 40,000 children.
  • 22 years is the average length of time it takes for a victim to seek help and justice.
  • 60% of reported cases has happened in faith-based organisations.
  • Children aged 8-9 comprise the largest number of victims.

The above are just Australian figures. What of the rest of the world?

Further research reveals that emotional abuse is the most common form and in many cases is the hardest to protect children from because it happens in their hearts and heads. This is just as damaging.

My heart breaks. I hear yours too.

I’m no expert and I can only thank God that I have not encountered these things in my years of teaching. So please do not take this as a concern I have for my particular school.

I speak for the children unheard, unknown to me but known to the God who made them. I speak for those that I am yet to meet. This is my commitment to them.

I speak for the children unheard, unknown to me but known to the God who made them. I speak for those that I am yet to meet. This is my commitment to them.

 

One thing that keeps children from speaking up is the fear of getting in trouble.

One thing that keeps adults from protecting them is fear of tarnishing their own reputation or of making things awkward.

This doesn’t add up. Children’s lives are more important than ‘keeping the peace’ in an organisation. And we know there is no peace where there is oppression and injustice.

Let’s not turn a blind eye when we know something is amiss. We must rid ourselves of this culture of silence and denial when children’s hearts are at stake.

I know this is no new topic but a new approach is needed. We all need to protect the children. ‘Child protection is everybody’s business’ is the Australian Department of Social Services’ program. We all need to keep each other accountable. A colleague today pointed out an honest truth: we are all possible perpetrators.

There are tensions, of course. We do not want to be too extreme and no longer trust anyone.

Prevention is key they say. One family lives this out through a simple rule: there are no secrets in our family. Surprises, yes, as these are revealed later on to bring joy. But no secrets.

And what of emotional abuse?

Here is an excerpt from a paper published on the Australian Institute of Family Studies website:

Briggs and Hawkins note that by ‘the very nature of adult-child relationships and cultural influences, most adults will have inflicted emotional abuse on children, probably without realising it’ (1996, p.21).

 

Let’s not think of ourselves as beyond this but instead be on our knees daily, seeking God to transform our hearts and give us grace when students get it wrong or are disobedient.

I have read of one teacher’s strategy to ensure that she is always fair and reasonable when disciplining students. It is this: imagine that the child’s parents are right behind the child, hearing your every word, when you reprimand the student.

For me, I put myself in the child’s shoes as I was a very sensitive student, taking to heart every word when I got scolded. But foremost, I put the onus on them to be responsible for their behaviour. As much as possible, instead of telling them off for what they have done wrong, I give them time to reflect and when they are ready, they let me know what classroom rules they broke, why it matters and what they plan to do now. Students in my class know that this is part of my role in protecting their right to enjoy and learn in school.

Let’s love our students by being careful to listen. Let’s not be dismissive of their stories. When they know you listen and you care, you just might be the first adult they know they can trust.

When they know you listen and you care, you just might be the first adult they know they can trust.

 

Let’s love our students by letting them try and fail. No one is perfect. No one behaves perfectly at all times or is 100% on task every second of the day. Show them grace the way God shows you and I grace every day. Oh the number of times I thought I deserved a lightning bolt from God and yet He is patient. We should be too.

Let’s love our children by knowing that words either heal or hurt. You don’t need to call a person ‘stupid’ to make someone feel like so. It’s in the tone, in the message, in that climate of fear that allows for no errors.

You don’t need call a person ‘stupid’ to make someone feel like so.

 

Let’s love the children in our care.

It is their right.

It is our duty.

 

If you are a victim yourself, please know that you are valued and there are many people who would love to support you. Please speak to someone. Know too, that there is a God who can heal all wounds and give you the power to forgive.

Go to Kids Helpline or call 1800 55 1800

Go to Crossway LifeCare or call (03) 9886 3899

Go to Lifeline or call 13 11 14

Questions and comments

    • Rachel ¦¦ A Nesting Nomad
    • July 12, 2016
    Reply

    There’s a lot to process in this post; from the high incidence of what we might typically think of as abuse right down to the more insipid forms that mean we mess up our kids one way or another. It really terrifies me, to be honest! I don’t have children myself but I do have a niece and nephews and although they’re young, I don’t think it’s ever too soon to have the ‘no secrets’ conversation. I’ll be broaching that with my sisters asap. Thanks for the well thought out and clearly articulated post.

    • Reply

      Thanks for your thoughts, Rachel! You’re right, it’s quite alarming. So happy you’ll chat about ‘no secrets’ with your sister, maybe I should too. We can never be too careful with our actions and words toward the children in our life.

    • menchierojas
    • July 12, 2016
    Reply

    Another masterpiece from Little Scratch… Thank you Mrs. Herweynen. And let’s not forget “Children are a gift from the Lord, they are a reward from Him.” Psalm 127:3….God bless

    • Reply

      Yes, children are indeed a precious gift, Ma! :) You should know, you had 11 kids! :) Thank you for always being encouraging.

Rachel Herweynen

Teacher & Traveller

Alive because of Jesus - a teacher, traveller and wife of a photographer. I write to learn, to help and to be thankful.

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