By Vi Waln
May is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month. The mental health of our children is affected by abuse, whether it happens at home or school. Child abuse is unacceptable because it does affect the state of our children’s mental health.
Violent abuse at school would likely cause a child victim to have extreme Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for life. School should never be a place for violence against children.
It’s unacceptable for a man who works in an elementary school to assault a little girl causing her to have a black eye. Child abuse by school staff shouldn’t be condoned.
Incidents like this one are supposed to be reported to the tribal child protection services or the police or the criminal investigator or even the Federal Bureau of Investigation. But many mandatory reporters of child abuse on the Rez call in reports without results. The assailant remains free in the community.
Well, at the very least I believe the staff member should be fired. Immediately. I also believe there should be criminal assault and child abuse charges filed against the staff member. What shouldn’t happen is an administrator, along with the parent of the staff member, advocating for the man who assaulted a child to be able to go back to work.
Say the man gets to go back to work in the school; now what if the next set of injuries inflicted by the man upon a child is worse than a black eye?
A man who works in a school and strikes a Lakota child hard enough to leave a mark on the student should be put in jail. Let me write that again. A man who works in a school and strikes a Lakota child hard enough to leave a mark on the student should be put in jail.
This actually happened a few months ago in a school on one of our reservations. The man was temporarily removed from his classroom job but now there are people close to the situation advocating for the suspension to be lifted so he can go back to his job. He was never arrested.
Do you really believe an adult who abused a child deserves another chance? Remember, this is a school where our own Lakota children are sent every day to learn. Many of us send our sons and daughters to school believing they will be safe.
But not all schools are safe. If this man is allowed to return to the classroom, I would encourage all parents to take their children out of that school. Do not wait for the next incident.
Obviously, a man who strikes a child hard enough to leave a black eye has major anger issues. He should be in counseling. There are anger management classes offered in jail.
The people of the community must not be silent when a man at school hits a little girl hard enough to leave a black eye.
What happened to the mantra which states Lakota children are sacred?