There are many aspects of teaching that are difficult. For me, the hardest part is the disclosures and the silence that we are then bound by. NSW teachers have access to a counselling program, meant to support us in these situations.
Taking nothing away from them, but I have had cause to utilise their services twice during my career. Realistically, I could have used them significantly more than that but I try to deal with stuff on my own. The first time I called and organised an appointment was in 2008 when I was assaulted during mob violence at the school I was working casually at whilst on leave from my substantive appointment.
They didn’t know what to say or how to help. What can you say to a teacher who used her body to shield a student from the blows that she incurred in his place, and was then not given time out or support by that school’s principal or the police.
The second time I called was when I had to notify the principal of something that had occurred at another school many years prior. Unfortunately the victim of that sexual abuse refused to come forward which meant nothing could move forward. More unfortunately, that didn’t mean I could forget what I knew. I rang the counsellors and I made an appointment.
Again, they didn’t know what to say or how to help.
So now, I’m sitting at home, have been all weekend, trying to make sense of bureaucracy and how inept it really is.
A few weeks ago I heard something I wish I hadn’t. I’ve done everything I am meant to do. I keep thinking I should ring the counsellors and make an appointment. But I know it would achieve nothing but ensure more frustration for me.
It is impacting my mental health, specifically my motivation. I am really angry at a system in place in education that does nothing to protect the people impacted by the behaviour of others. The kids and the staff that support them specifically. I’m not the only referrer and I wasn’t the first. And I know the other person is suffering too.
But not the person who caused this. They get to keep living their life as if nothing has happened.
And quite frankly, that’s fucked and unacceptable to me. But I’m shackled. I have no authority and no power in this situation. And that goes against my core values and principles.
I shouldn’t even be writing this.
Frustration man, frustration.