I can not save children. Sadly, I have to remind myself of that fairly often.
Recently there was an intern teaching in my classroom. As a result, I had more free time than usual. One of the things I've did with that time was meet with my little mentee more often. As a classroom teacher it is hard to find free time in my day that also fits in her day to meet. So for a few weeks I was seeing her a couple of times a week. She was in my class last year and it was an exceptionally rough year for her personally.
Working with her and talking with her teacher has me struggling with questions that have always nagged at the back of my mind. When is it reasonable to hold children accountable? How do we draw the line between all that is weighing on them and the expectations we have for them at school?
This little girl is not meeting benchmarks in school. Given the situation in her life I don't find that even remotely surprising. Her behavior does not meet our expectations. Again, I'm not surprised by this. Any adult would struggle with their daily life under such circumstances.
At some point this little girl has to become responsible for herself and her actions, regardless of the trauma she has endured. When does she cross that line? Age 12? 16? 18? 21? How on earth do we set a date by which she has to pull herself up and do what society expects of everyone?
And how do we, as a society, sleep at night knowing that we are, in many ways, failing our most vulnerable?