SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: Teacher Abuse is Abuse

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Teacher Abuse is Abuse

I got my first bachelor pad in my hometown way back in July of 1990. It was awesome. A studio apartment directly behind an IHOP, at a main intersection, shops within walking distance, and best of all a Metro-North station a quarter of a mile walk.

Being a groovy single guy the other married men with families on my floor lived somewhat vicariously through me. They thought I was cool. I didn't think they were. Not 100% true, there was one dad who almost turned me off to getting married and having children.

Jughead and Big Ethel lived diagonally across the hall from me. They had a 2 bedroom. Both were portly and ugly as sin. However, the had a gorgeous toe-headed little boy named Reggie. Back in 1990 Reggie was about 4 years old.

Anyway, and I got this second hand, when Reggie was born, Big Ethel suffered from sever post-partum depression to the point where she was hospitalized. Which is an explanation, I think, of what I am about to share.

Being that Reggie was an only child, Reggie bore the brunt of everything, good and bad, in their home. Sadly, from what I heard and saw, in person, in the hallway, and in my apartment with my door closed sitting outside on the balcony while blasting Rush, was not right.

Reggie was a handful and cried and had tantrums quite a bit. Every time he cried and/or threw a tantrum I would hear from either Jughead or Big Ethel, or both, yelling at Reggie, "IF YOU DON'T STOP CRYING WE ARE GOING TO CALL THE POLICE!" And soon the wailing, the tantrums would get worse.


Once when my dad came to pick something up in my mailbox Big Ethel was in the lobby ripping apart a crying Reggie. Big Ethel pointed at my dad and screamed at Reggie, "SEE, THE POLICE ARE HERE TO TAKE YOU AWAY!" My dad being the man that he was said, "Hey lady, don't get me involved with your crap."

In retrospect I wished I had called Child Protective Services, or better yet, told Jughead to cut it out. But being a renter in a co-op building and with Jughead on the board, I never did.

They sold the apartment and moved away in the mid 90's. Reggie would be about 28 years old now. I always wonder what became of him. If he was able to turn out well adjusted and able to bury the scars that his parents imprinted on him.

But can you imagine the hell this boy must have gone through? Being told almost day in and day out that he is no good, that his parents wished him gone? What kind of self esteem did he lack? His parents, obviously were not only abusive, but stupid. Stupid, for the way they treated this boy, but stupid because in an apartment building everyone can hear everything.

But back to Reggie. How much damage has he suffered? Was he able to overcome it? Has he turned to substance abuse to ease the pain or has he turned to counseling? Is the pain or anger living inside of him fighting to stay in but every now and then it bubbles up to the surface and consumes him, stops him from living?

I share this (And I know there are some begging me to get to the point!) because we all can empathize with the abuse this boy was raised in. We all know what effects the abuse can have on a child verbally abused throughout his most formative years.

But what about the abuse teachers receive? Not from colleagues, not from parents or students, but the very people that we look to for leadership as Reggie did, our principals? How much can one take of constant day in and day out abuse?

Teachers hear, "Deal with it," or "You're an adult." To both, The Crack Team says hogwash!

Part of the reason I believe teachers get into teaching is that we are sensitive and feel others pain easily. Like in the Star Trek TOS episode "The Empath," we really do feel others pain.

So because our senses, our antenna is so attuned to what others feel, when we are berated, when we are abused, when we are demeaned it hits us harder than it does other adults in other professions.

Verbal abuse not only hurts but it is damaging as well. It is damaging when we are screamed at, when we are told, or it's implied that we are no good. We are torn up inside when we feel we are being singled out, being treated in a disparage way.

And unlike Reggie, who can withdraw into himself, we can't. We have to be on. We have to "turn that frown upside down." Where do we get the relief? Who can we take it out on? Too often and sadly it is taken out on our loved ones. Our loved ones are made to suffer, our loved ones then become damaged.

But the world loves and wants to help a little boy. The world has learned to hate and ignore a teacher. But abuse is abuse. Teachers do not deserve to be abused.


Anonymous said...

I met Kathryn Hays a number of times in 1974 while she was playing Kim on "As the World Turns" and I was working at the CBS Broadcast Center. One day, in the control room, she introduced me to her daughter, Shari.

It was "Kathy" who played Gem, the empath, in that "Star Trek" episode.

Kathy Hays would probably have made an excellent principal.

Personally, I think it's a sad state of affairs, indeed, when CSA members verbally abuse UFT members or write deceitful observation reports or U-rated APPR forms.

Anonymous said...

My brother-in-law treated his son in a similar manner. The child was never "good enough." He grew up to be highly dysfunctional. OCD as well as drug abuse. The daughter, however, was treated like a princess and grew up to be highly stable. The abuse takes its toll.