It's difficult to describe what I've been feeling since I got the phone call early yesterday morning. Sadness, loss, outrage, disbelief, guilt, anger. Everything in my heart and mind has been jumbled up. The father of one of my students killed his girlfriend, leaving my student and his siblings without a mother. Even the word "girlfriend", used by the media, upset me because they have been together for years. They had four children. And now those children will also spend their lives without a father, or a father they see only in prison. Some people lead such tragic lives.
I immediately wished I had spent more time talking with the mother. I wonder if I could have talked her into leaving him. She had a restraining order, but went back to him anyway. Been there, done that. But I was one of the lucky ones. I eventually moved away and stayed away from my first husband. The ones that stay in abusive relationships are the ones who believe they can work miracles, believe that they will be the one to change the anger and violence into respect and love. It seldom works that way.
As teachers we are usually aware of a few family problems. But children talk mostly of happy times. They want things to be that way. When we do pick up clues or hear bits and pieces of information the problem is knowing when to cross the line and discuss a child's home life. Reading and writing and math are the usual parent/teacher topics, not drugs and violence and restraining orders. I've reported abuse of a child, talked to a sheriff, and even appeared in court on behalf of a child. However, I've never interfered in the relationship between two adults. I hope that doesn't become a necessary part of my job.
So I leave you today with a request. If you are in a situation that might lead to violence, get out. Get out now. I don't want to get a phone call about you.