I know you don’t want to read this. And when I post this story to my Facebook page, there will be comments like “I can’t read this. I can’t handle it.”
God knows I don’t want to write it. I don’t want to write these posts about abuse of children in schools, but I have to. Because it is happening, and people need to know it. And people need to know that this is a real fear that parents of special needs kids in particular live with every day.
A school bus attendant in Long Island, New York has been charged with assault after a 5-year-old’s arm was fractured, reports CBS News. Richard Mason, 39, allegedly grabbed Connor Shirangi’s arm and twisted it behind his back while trying to discipline the boy.
Connor’s arm was fractured, and he also sustained bruises to his face and abdomen.
“Connor was swinging his feet and kicking the seat of the bus and Mr. Mason apparently got upset and handled him the way you wouldn’t handle anybody,” the boy’s mom, Desiree Johnston-Shirangi, told CBS-2. “From what the doctors are saying, he used excessive force on my child.”
Ms. Johnston-Shirangi also said that the bruising along Connor’s waist made it appear that he had been tied down.
Children with special needs are inherently more vulnerable to abuse than their typically-developing peers. They may be physically or cognitively less able to defend themselves. They may be less able or unable to communicate that abuse has taken place; they may be in a classroom full of kids who are less able or unable to communicate that abuse has taken place.
It’s terrifying for parents of special needs kids. These stories make us want to throw up, make us want to home school, make us want to be left alone in a room for just five minutes with one of these abusers so we can take out our hormone-filled mother bear blind rage on them.
So we don’t want to read them. Because knowing that this happens, acknowledging that this happens, means it could happen to our children.
A year ago I interviewed a Florida mom whose 5-year-old autistic son had been repeatedly, horrifically abused by his teacher.
“You hear about things like this,” Nina Moreno-Hansen said to me, “but you have so much faith. You think it’ll never happen to us, but it did. It happened.”
We have to read these stories. I have to write them. I have to shout these stories from the rooftops, and scream and rant and yell because it is happening. And we–not just parents of special needs kids, but our whole society–need to be horrified. We need to be paying attention and be reporting things that seem “off.”
Nina Moreno-Hansen’s son had been abused repeatedly before a classroom aide finally reported the abuse. How many adults are looking the other way? Do you really, really think this was the first time Richard Mason was a little too rough with a kid on that bus?
If you are a teacher.
If you are an aide in a school.
If you are a parent volunteer.
If you are in any way, shape or form observing kids in a school environment, you have to pay attention. You have to stand up. You have to say something.
(Photo Credit: iStockphoto)
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