Irrevocably Changed

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broken glass 2I like to enjoy reading the paper. I like to sit quietly at the kitchen table, sipping a cup of coffee, and read as many stories as I can before my son demands my attention. This morning, I read a news brief that stated that a 21 year old man had been charged with briefly choking an 11 year old boy at a daycare.

My son's daycare.

We knew the guy. He was one of the guys who would supervise the kids while they were outside once the classes are combined. For the uninitiated, as kids are picked up and the numbers thin out, it is a common practice to combine classes to allow teachers the opportunity to clean up their classrooms or talk to parents. The daycare workers are not allowed to yell, reprimand, spank, or use punitive measures such as time out. In other words, they don't really have a lot of options when it comes to discipline. Mr. Ryan seemed nice; he was nice to Zane, and he was polite to us. Yet this same man committed a crime. I have to wonder what put him over the edge, but at the same time I really don't care. He broke the very law that allows us to entrust our children to others. He violated a boundary. Boundaries are extremely important to all of us, but they are especially important to a child.

I often think of boundaries as that yellow line on the floor of a bus. You aren't supposed to cross that yellow line while the bus is in motion. Children (and adults, too) thrive when they know where the yellow line is. If they can trust that if they cross that line there will be someone there to help them, they feel safe. Children trust adults to help them learn the boundaries they need to survive the world. There is a measure of safety and trust that comes from knowing that an adult respects the boundaries of a child.

And adults are never to take advantage of that trust. They also must never break that trust. There is no trust when boundaries are not respected. There is no feeling of safety when the boundaries are not respected. If a child does not trust the adults in their lives because their boundaries were not respected, then that child has no faith in the boundaries around them. They no longer trust the statements of authority figures. They no longer trust in laws. They can't trust the boundaries of others, therefore all boundaries are suspect, including their own. People who have no boundaries are both scared and scary; if you don't know where the line is drawn, how do you know when you've crossed it?

I feel bad for this man for his loss of control, but he will no longer be working with children. I worry about the child he choked more, because that boy was actually testing the boundaries with his behavior. How this is handled by his parents, however, will spell the difference between a healthy view of what happened and a downward spiral into perpetual victimhood. This boy's trust in the world has been irrevocably broken, and that breaks my heart a little.

Photo Credit: nesster.

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