Once had a parent find out that a) I'm gay, and b) I have some music industry contacts. They immediately offered me " unlimited, unsupervised access" to their 16 year old son in exchange for helping him break into the music business. I was 35.
I reported them immediately.Source
I had a student ask me if I had any old glasses frames she could have, because hers broke. I knew she was in the foster care system, so I asked her why her foster mom couldn't get her some new ones. She told me that her foster mom said she could only get new frames every four years, which made her sad because her real daughter had just gotten a second set of frames that year. I had noticed several other things (the student asked me if I had any extra female hygiene supplies so she could have some at night, so I sent her to the nurse to get extras) that seemed like they should have been covered by the state. I reported this, and it turned out that the foster mom was clearly not providing basic necessities for either of her foster kids. I was really glad I went with my gut.Source
Had a kid I taught in preschool who would get unreasonably angry, violent, and loud for no obvious reason. Everything would be fine and then he would totally snap. All we could do when he did was to usher other kids away and wait for him to calm down.
His mom seemed nice enough when I met her and his dad didn't appear to be in the picture (he never showed up, was never discussed by mom or child, etc.) One day, mom didn't show to pick him up. I was the only teacher left, since he was the last kid, and he just sat at the window, sobbing.
She didn't show up until 7pm that night and our building closed at 5:30pm. By that time, he was completely inconsolable and it was all I could to do run down to the kitchen with him, make him a sandwich with the director's permission, and let him watch movies on my phone.
Over the course of the next few weeks, this started to happen more and no matter how many times the director talked to his mom, she would continue to come late. Then his lunches started to deteriorate and he would come to school hungry, having not been fed breakfast.
He was only with us for the 3 months between preschool and kindergarten and I have no idea what happened to him, but the director was paying close attention and (luckily) we never saw any physical abuse. I always brought him breakfast and made sure I had an extra sandwich and caprisun for him when I came to work.
That kid didn't go hungry on my watch.
Poor kid was just being forgotten.Source
I was teaching Freshman English. There was a very good student, female, 23 or so. Really bright and engaged. Frankly, it was nice to have someone other than 18-year-olds in the class. She consistently participated and was the best part of the class for me personally. And then one day, she stopped coming. Two weeks went by. Not a peep. It isn't uncommon for students to put off dropping a class until the deadline, so while I was disappointed, I wasn't concerned. Then she showed up, apologizing for missing so much time. By rule, she'd already failed the class, but I sensed something was awry, so I worked with her on a schedule to complete the work she'd missed. And then she missed those deadlines and begged for more extensions. I asked her what was up, and she burst into tears and told me that her boyfriend had beaten the crap out of her. She showed me the bruises on her arms and legs. It was awful. Of course, I talked her into letting me call the police and I sent her to university-provided counseling.
It got worse. I asked the a--hole department-chair what to do about her grade. He ordered me to kick her out of my class. "Oh god, anything but that," I pleaded. But he was firm. If I didn't kick her out, he would. "You're not doing her any favors by letting her fail," he said. And so, in one of the hardest conversations I will ever have, I told her to withdraw so I didn't have to fail her. You cannot even imagine my guilt, especially when she sobbed that she would lose her financial aid and have to drop out of school entirely. What do you even say to that? But the deed was done. She dropped all of her classes and disappeared from the university altogether, as promised.
A few years later, I was working a soulless corporate job in another city. My old English department secretary emailed me and told me a former student was trying to contact me. It was her. She'd finally finished school, and she wanted to let me know. It was a moment of pure joy. And to give the guy his due, the department chair had been absolutely right.Source
I had a kid my first or second year-- so this was 1995-96-- who was pretty scary. I teach English, btw. He was just an a--hole; had an excuse for everything, tried to bully other kids, when we had discussions about literature he wanted to derail the conversation into weird territory... hard to explain, but the kid was just off.
At parent conference time, mom came in, and I was careful to say some positive things. Him derailing conversations because "creativity," for example. Mom cried and told me no one had ever said anything positive about her kid, before me. She even wrote me a thank you note. I also covered the aspects of his behavior that concerned me, of course.
Anyway, after high school he got arrested for theft, drugs, and assault and spent some time in jail. He committed suicide before he was 30.Source
I work at a gymnastics place. I work with a group of 2nd/3rd grade girls. At the beginning of the year, it was fine, she was really happy, cheerful, got along with everyone. Then one day, she didn't come. Didn't think too much of it, kids are absent a lot. I hardly ever have a full class. But one day turned to two. Then three. Eventually, a week went by when she finally showed up, at least physically. She looked emotionally drained. Like she couldn't walk 5 feet without giving up. She didn't wanna be there, so I told her she should call her folks at home to see if they can come get her. Big mistake, she went off, saying how I didn't want her there, and that she thought that I thought it "was the best week since I wasn't here." Then she went to the bathroom. I couldn't go in there(I'm a guy) so the female teacher went in to being her out. We went into a back room, and asked her if she was okay, to which she started crying. She told me that at the beginning of the year, she was living with her grandparents, hence why she was happy all the time. Then they suddenly died in a car crash while she was at gymnastics. I was horrified. But that's not the end. She said the reason she was living with them was because her parents would abuse her and force her to do s--- she didn't want to, so they would beat her. Now, I've seen things that should make me cry. My grandmother and grandfather have both passed(on both sides). One of my close friends died to cancer when I was in middle school. It was tough. But the story she told me, it ranks right up there with it. I was about to cry myself. No child should have to endure this type of thing. So the grandfather took her away and brought her out of that life, until they left. It was sickening. After about 45 minutes of talking about it, I convinced her we call the police. She was sent to counseling. I never heard from her again. I never heard of what happened to her or the parents, granted this happened 2 months ago. I'm hoping one day she'll walk in and I'll see her, happy as she was when I first met her.Source
A bit different from some of the others, but I once taught a class of 30 "at risk" 4th graders. They were getting supplementary math lessons, as they were failing their regular math class, and it was rough. It was one of those schools where they have metal detectors at every entrance. On multiple occasions I broke up rather impressive fights. Without conventional weapons, they were really ingenious. One kid once ripped out the three ring part of the three ring binders and attacked another student's forearm with it. Really creative, but obviously not great behavior. I was an untrained and unqualified teacher (I was supposed to be designing after school program curriculum, not teaching). I actually completely missed the "red flag".
One kid, I'll call him Darron, was really well behaved. I never had to say anything to get him to sit down, stop hitting other students, stop throwing things, or any of a number of disruptive activities going on in the classroom. In fact, he never did much at all. He spent most of the time dozing off or barely listening, leaning forward and resting his head in his hands. I didn't think anything of it, as the rest of the class was so much for disruptive and destructive, I was spending most of my time and energy just keeping them under control.
Well Darron was quiet and sleepy during class because his house burned down at the start of the school year. The fire killed his grandma (who raised him) and his dog. He was sent to live with his cousins, 12 people who lived in a very small house with nowhere close to enough bedrooms to be legally occupied the way it was. Darron had been depressed and having problems sleeping (sharing a room with his cousins) for the entire year by the time I found out what happened. I learned on the last day of school.
I'm sorry I didn't know, Darron. I'm sorry I didn't notice you were having problems.Source
I'm a 7th grade English teacher. Last year I had a student who I'll call Mark. I knew Mark had a lot of issues before I even met him by just looking at his record. Mark was almost 16, learning disabled, and he had not one but TWO traumatic brain injuries. These injuries are the reason why I believe Mark had no common sense and no filter, but it in no way excuses the events I'm about to describe.
When the year started he was pretty docile and eager to please. However as the year went on he became more aggressive and inappropriate. I'm a young woman and he would frequently stay after class to ask for hugs. I would politely redirect him, but sometimes he would ignore me and I'd have to physically push his hands away. That made me uncomfortable for personal and professional reasons.
Toward the middle of the year he started "dating" a girl (let's call her Sue) and they had me for the same class period, but they broke up after a few weeks (as middle schoolers often do). After Sue broke up with him Mark became obsessed with her, following her to all of her classes, harassing her on social media and in school... it got to the point where Sue did not feel comfortable coming to my class unless she was literally sitting right next to me at the front of the room. Sue also came late to my class and would wait until after the tardy bell for the next period rang before she'd leave my class to avoid him. This girl was so scared she broke down crying when I told her she had to go to her next class because she was so afraid she'd run into him in the hallways.
I emailed our deans and guidance counselors about Marks harassment and reached out to both Sue's and Marks parents to let them know what was happening. The school established a no-contact contract between them (sort of like a middle school version of a restraining order) and things got a little better for Sue, but Marks inappropriate behavior did not end.
A couple weeks later I was out for a doctor appointment when I get an email from the deans at my school saying Mark has been suspended out of school for a 10 days. A student only gets 10 days OSS if they're about to be expelled, and I was freaking out thinking that he had done something to Sue.
Sue was fine, but Mark, as a "prank", had pulled down the pants and underwear of a kid (I'll call him Ryan) in front of the entire class. From what my students told me the next day Mark was laughing and making vulgar, crude comments about Ryan's private parts, making Ryan run crying from the room. Ryan's parents came in that afternoon raising hell (rightfully so) saying Mark needed to be charged with sexual harassment.
At this point I'd had enough. I went to the principal directly to write a formal statement detailing Marks escalating pattern of aggressive and inappropriate behavior to ensure his expulsion would go through. (The expulsion process is kind of like a trial and you need lots of documentation to get a kid kicked out school) I told her and the expulsion committee that I didn't think having Mark at our school was safe for the other students. It was a matter of time before Mark seriously hurt someone. On top of that I believe he needed professional help, and I thought being expelled would get him that help because he'd have to attend a much stricter charter school
Long story short, the committee decided not to expel him. They said it wasn't in Marks best interest. He came back to school after serving his suspension.
Flash forward about a month. One day Mark is absent, which is weird because he's never absent. Later I get an email saying he's transferred to another school in our county. I'm wondering what happened to him, so I reach out to his other teachers to see if they know anything.
What happened was Mark had yet another altercation with a student, this time in art class. Mark was "playing around" with a kid and pushed him into a metal filing cabinet. The back of this kids head went into the corner of the filing cabinet, right at the base of his skull. We (teachers) later found out this injury resulted in irreversible brain damage for this kid. He spent the rest of the year being homeschooled and is still in rehabilitation therapy. Idk if he'll ever attend public school again. After this incident Marks mom immediately transferred him to another school to avoid his expulsion. To my knowledge he's never faced repercussions for what he did.
I was furious. I had said to my principal and argued to the expulsion committee that something like this would happen because Mark had no sense of boundaries and zero disregard for other people's feelings. This poor kids life has been changed forever and I blame their negligence as much as I blame Mark. The writing was on the wall and the people who had the power to stop Mark (and get him help!) ignored it.
Idk where Mark is now. I think one day he'll end up on the news for "accidentally" killing someone.Source
It depends on what kind of "red flags" you are talking about. I've seen flags for home abuse, sexual abuse, malnutrition, neglect, un-diagnosed mental illness or learning disorders. We're mandatory reporters, so our only option is to tell an authority (usually an administrator) who will then contact the proper authority for investigation or testing. Then if we continue to see the same sorts of flags, we continue to document and report. Sometimes things get resolved and everyone is happy, sometimes they do not.
Now if you're talking about red flags as to a student potentially harming themselves or possibly others, we see a lot of false flags all the time. I work with middle school kids; it used to be if one of them drew a picture of a gun in a notebook, we had to report it. But these days, my kids all play Call of Duty and GTA5, so most of the time these drawings or even fantasies they might write about are simply based from the violence they see in video games. But believe me, we do keep an eye on everything. We'll call home to parents and talk to counselor's if we're worried about something, but most of the time it's innocent.
That being said, I have had several students who....concerned me. I had a boy in one class who had been threatening students when teachers weren't around. A call home revealed that not only was he a foster child, but he had been torturing his other foster siblings and even lighting small fires in his house. We eventually, after a lot of hoops jumped through with CPS and the family, got him the help he needed and he was institutionalized.
I also had a girl who would be considered Goth by most standards. Lots of black, heavy makeup, obsession with Edgar Allen Poe. She had a strange habit of bringing cupcakes or cookies into class, sharing them and then watching people eat them but never eating them herself. We had a couple one on one writing sessions and I discovered that her home life was in upheaval because her parents were in the process of a divorce. I'm assuming when she watched other kids eat, she was hoping for praise from them that she wasn't receiving at home. All in all she was a weird, but good kid.
I was lucky enough to work in a district that really emphasized mental health, so our kids felt comfortable talking to counselors, administrators, teachers and their parents about what was bothering them.Source
My mom worked at my elementary during and after my stay there. She worked as a teachers aid and would help out during lunch. While I was in middle school she told me about a little girl who came to lunch every day with a crummy smushed sandwich and nothing else to eat. Her brother on the other hand would get a more acceptable lunch. She said that the first few times they noticed it they would offer milk and fruit to her but the brother would just take it away from her so they had to start waiting for him to finish his own lunch and go outside for recess before they could feed her. I don't know what happened with her after that though, but I felt so much anger at that snot nosed brat. What the f--- was wrong with that family that even the brother was putting down that little girl?Source
I was a TA in an after school tutoring program at a public school back in the late 90s. I noticed one girl ("Stacy") right away (7 yo) who was only allowed to use the restroom with supervision, and the restroom had to be empty of all other kids. On my first day I was helping her and she was scooting around in her seat a lot, and she said "my c--- itches." I thought it was very odd so I asked about her, and holy crap I will never forget it. Stacy was born to a 13 year old girl who was raped by her father, and the dad/grandfather molested her as a baby as well. When she was young her mom started bringing men home for prostitution purposes. The mom would service men with her daughter laying in bed next to her, and it was pretty much a given that Stacy was molested by those men as well. Her mom also smoked heroin with her daughter next to her. She was taken by CPS and was in foster care when I taught her. This poor kid would attempt to molest other little girls in the bathroom and scream sexually explicit phrases at any given times. She would masturbate and pee everywhere in the bathroom if not supervised. This poor girl was kicked out of every foster home for acting out sexually. Finally they found a lady who was a social worker who dealt with juvenile gang members- she was tough as nails. Nothing scared her. She agreed to take Stacy in. Slowly we began to see the sexual agression stopping, she stopped wetting her pants, and the yelling obscenities stopped. She still had to be supervised around other girls and in the bathroom but she began playing appropriately. 6 months after Stacy got her new foster mom, she was reading and writing and acting almost like a kid her age. Speaking to her foster mom one day she said that she has begun the process to adopt Stacy, and if she could get through the school year without another behavioral issue, she would be adopted. I had to leave to go to college so I wasn't there to see it, but my old boss emailed me and said that the adoption had been finalized, and they moved to another state so Stacy wouldn't keep getting flash backs from the old places. I desperately wish I knew how she'd turned out.Source
Had a high school student who was a well-known white supremacist wear a bulletproof vest to school one day. Quietly called administration to come take him from class. His father complained "Where in the dress code does it say he can't wear a bulletproof vest?" That was a big red flag. Later that year kid was expelled for extorting money from other kids by threatening them with a screwdriver. A year later that student got shot in the face and lost his entire nose, and he's now in prison.Source
I worked in a school for seriously emotionally disturbed children as an intern so this is from the red flag already noticed department:
-8 year old with his own giant bodyguard who followed him around to protect other children from him. He was dangerous.
-7 year old who had never spoken one word due to abuse.
-8 year old with one leg shorter than the other due to mother breaking it when he was an infant and no medical attention.
-7 year old who constantly tried to molest other kids because that was the only love he'd known.
That was my entire classroom. These kids broke my heart every day that they persevered and kept trying to learn and yet had no real future ahead of them (yes there are miracles but these kids wouldn't see to many of those). Worst mistake I ever made was deciding to pursue my original career rather than go into SED teaching. Very, very rewarding work.Source
I'm 'that teacher' students find to discuss their mental health and home life issues with. Possibly due to the subject I teach (Health), but I think it also has something to do with my personality. I only teach 10% of the school, but have spoken one-on-one with probably 60% of the kids at some point. Many of them find themselves crying or just moping outside my classroom, and know that I will speak to them or give them some sort of advice. Every once in a while, I find a kid who takes advantage (if I cry to Miss Z., I don't need to take my maths test), but I can usually suss this out quite quickly.
Anyway - red flags? This week alone, I've had two cases of self-harm, one child who is afraid to come out as gay to her Evangelical parents, one child kicked out of her home for being gay (in the same class, but two separate days), and a seventeen-year-old who had been starving herself. Last year I 'hosted' a lunch club for my most vulnerable students, including 12 girls recovering from eating disorders, and we would have discussions about futures etc. while I was able to check they were eating.
Why do I do this? It takes up more than half my time at school. It occasionally undermines my position as their teacher (when the line is blurred because 'teacher' and 'counselor'). But I worry what will happen if the students don't have anyone to talk to.
Why do I do this? Because my dance teacher was the only person in my life who spotted that I was in an abuse relationship. While he didn't step in and call CPS (in retrospect, he should have), it gave me a bright spot and made me realize that someone cared, and was watching out for me. I do know that I became a teacher in part to help kids in the way I needed help.Source
My mom had a kid who came from a VERY broken home. I can't remember specifics, but he was raised by his Grandmother due to his mother and father being incarcerated. He's given my mother some hell by being violent towards other students, violent towards her and other teachers, and even showing violence towards administrators. During centers, the kids are divided up and my mom has a group with her including this child. They read a story about a dog, and my mom used that to segue into some comprehension questions concerning the story. The topic of pets is brought up, and the boy mentions that his sister's rabbit died earlier in the year and that he was the one who killed the rabbit. My mother gets a bit concerned, and asks the boy if it was on accident, and he replies that it wasn't and that he choked the rabbit until it stopped breathing.
My mom quickly had to push the topic to something else because the other kids in the centers' group were noticeably uncomfortable (including herself). My mother began the process to put him into an alternative school for students with emotional/behavioral difficulties, but his mother got out of jail and moved him along with his siblings to Florida just before he was set to begin that school.Source
I work in an inner-city school in an under-resourced neighborhood. There are so many red flags every week, I couldn't count them all. One little boy stands out to me though. I greet the kids as they come into school every morning, and one day I noticed a man and a child walking across the lawn to our door slowly, the man getting in the child's face a few times. Finally they reach the door, and the man practically hands his son to me, saying "can you make sure he gets to his classroom? He just tried running away from me a minute ago." I was speechless, but I took the kid, who was quietly tearful, and brought him into the building. I was trying to ask him who's class he was in so I could take him to his room, but he wouldn't talk to me. Finally he said "I don't want to go home ever again" just as I was getting him through the door, and another teacher stepped in and swept him away, telling him "we haven't seen you in weeks! Don't cry, we don't do that here!" I know she meant well, but I could tell that it had taken a lot for that kid to say what he did, and I didn't know if he would share that with anyone else. I told the school social worker and can only hope that he's being taken care of now. That boy broke my heart.Source
I'm a technology teacher (design and make). I had an 11 year old student who was terrible at using scissors and couldn't thread a needle. She had very high grades academically but something didn't seem quite right.
I recommended she receive special assistance and a referral, and it turns out after testing that she had very little spatial awareness and almost no hand-eye coordination. After calling the parents in we found that her mother was paralyzed and in a wheelchair (only dad had come to parent interviews etc), and dad was very busy working to support them both, so no one had ever played any physical games or activities with her. She hadn't developed in this area, and was intelligent enough to hide these short comings in previous school activities.
Not a difficult fix (lots of time doing crafts, throwing and catching balls, that kind of thing needed), but something that could have really held her back in the future.Source
After music class, one of my students lingered after everyone left and told me he was "afraid to go home."
I asked him why, and he quickly lifted his shirt and showed me welts, lacerations and black & blue marks where he had been abused.
He begged me not to tell anyone, because it would only make it worse. But said he wanted me to know because I was "like the father he wished he had."
I convinced him that he should let me connect him with professionals on staff who could offer the type of help and counsel he desperately needed.Source
You know when a young person learns how to curse, they don't inflect the sentence correctly and it just sounds wrong? "Wtf?" becomes "what THE f---?"... just sounds weird.
About 3 months ago, We were just having a conversation about his college application and he just said, "yeah, well if I don't get into MIT I guess I'll just kill myself." It's didn't sound like a joke It just sounded wrong. Like he inflected it incorrectly. It threw me off. I scolded him, "hey dude, easy. Don't joke about that stuff."
This passed Tuesday he committed suicide. We loved that kid. He was an adult in a 17 year old's body. I'll never forgive myself for not seeing that.Source
Teaching a kid right now that one of my colleagues jokingly said about "if anyone is going to shoot up our school, it's that kid". He is rather quiet, looks a little off, and can be out of tune with his social skills. He was tested to have a high IQ but never really shows it, doesn't like anything with more challenge.
In short, something in him raises red flags. He is not angry, sad, evil, nothing like that, it is more as if there is a small black hole in your classroom that sucks up any connection, attention, looks you throw its way.
Hope these red flags turn out to be nothing more than a general uneasy feeling.Source
A few years ago I volunteered to mentor kids in this program for low-income "at risk" kids. Twice a week we took them to The Boys & Girls club, fed them dinner, and did activities with them in small groups. We didn't have enough adults for one-on-one attention, but it was 2-3 kids per adult. We ate dinner with the kids and just paid attention to them.
I got assigned to the youngest girls in the group. Katie, a 4-year-old still in preschool, looked like a living cabbage patch doll with chubby cheeks and dimples. Katie was very sweet, but I quickly found out that she was a chronic liar.
Every time I saw Katie she'd have a new wildly impossible story. She told stories about surviving fires, about going on trips, and about finding magical places. It all sounded like things she'd seen on TV. Sometimes her stories didn't even make sense. One day she'd talk about her mommy being sick in the hospital, and the next she'd be talking about her mommy taking her to a theme park. One time she told me she was an only child. A few weeks later, she had brothers and sisters. It was all a bit confusing and unbelievable, but kids that age lie a lot so I didn't worry about it much.
Then one night, right before Christmas, Katie didn't greet me with her usual dimpled smile. She had obviously been crying, so I asked her what was wrong.
"My mommy died," she said.
I immediately assumed she was lying. It was the weirdest lie she'd told so far, but not too far off from the other things like her house burning down. But then Katie showed me the piece of paper she was clutching. It was the program from a woman's funeral.
A bit panicked, I found the program director and asked him what the f--- was going on with this kid.
"Oh yeah, her mom died last week. The funeral was on Sunday," the director said, like it was no big deal.
So I went back to Katie and just tried to figure out how the f--- to help this 4 year old navigate the death of her mother. I figured she needed some normalcy in her life, so we ate dinner together and tried to go through the usual routine. When it was time to play games, Katie refused. She sat in my lap and asked me to read the funeral program over and over again, so I did.
Later I found out that only about half of the things Katie had told me were lies. She did like to make up stories, but she was doing it to cope with a seriously f---ed up life. Her mom had been dying of cancer for the last year, and no one in the program bothered to fill me in on that even though the director knew that was why she was with us. The reason her family situation was so confusing was that she was in foster care and she was calling both her mom and her foster mom "Mommy". She told me she was an only child one week and then talked about brothers and sisters the next week because she had gone to a foster home with other children.
I felt like s--- for not believing her. I'm still mad at the program director for not mentioning that the kid's mom was dying.Source
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