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How to help a truant

  1. Mar 29, 2006 #1
    Hello,

    There's a person in my school I really want to help, yet I feel powerless. This guy isn't a bad person although many would think so after his deeds. He comes to class once every 2-4 weeks. I feel like I'm the only person talking with him, it's just not the normal talk, all I want to do is help him, and create some inspirations and courage in him.

    Everytime he comes I try to get something out of him, because feeling a person is one way to understand a person, but knowing as much as you can about a person is the key to feel like the person and understand his life. I know that he lives with his mom, brothers and sisters and his father died. I know that he smoke weed, as he said he smokes a lot of it. He's a nice guy after all. Everytime I try to tell him something about life, school, that he needs to pass every subject. High shool is needed for later job anywhere.

    I'm sure he understands all I say in full meanings, and it always keeps only on promises and talks. He takes notes, participate, and after that, he's gone for another 2-4 weeks. It's not hard to guess his grades, 40-40-....
    I once asked him, have you ever shown your report card to your mom? He said yeah, and my mom said nothing. Alright so again, he keeps on promises that he's going to come, and do the work, and well he did for some part of the year, but since he has missed about 7/8 of all days, an English teacher, which I also have, told him that he has no chances to pass the class. After that I haven't seen him for 2 months.

    And here he came yesterday and the same thing over and over again - only conversation which doesn't change anything. This English teacher is not a cruel person, but she keeps on yelling on people and her attitude toward people like him is bad. Doesn't she understand that such people need help, not punishment? The school is no different than her.

    They keep on punishing him, but well it doesn't work! Don't they understand that people like that need help not punishment? that they already have received enough of punishment and now it's time to make changes and help people find their way in life? Do those people have any feelings? I bet they all would wish to receive help from others or wouldn't they? I also think that it's not really him who doesn't want to come to classes, it's just his friends who don't come and so keep him meanwhile. He just needs a good push and courage to get away from such people but how can he receive it?

    And so my ask for help is here, Can you give me some ideas and ways to help such a person? How would you help him or what would you do?
    Thanks
     
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  3. Mar 29, 2006 #2

    Moonbear

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    I don't have any suggestions; I don't know how to help someone so intent on self-destruction. But, I do agree with you that he does need help, not just being yelled at and punished more. As you said, punishment doesn't work, just drives him back out the door again.

    And, I just had to comment that I found your username pretty funny considering you don't sound heartless at all to be showing this much concern for someone you barely know. :smile:
     
  4. Mar 29, 2006 #3
    What you're doing for now is pretty much all you can do as far as I can figure. Maybe you can talk to a school counselor and let them know about your worries. What year is he in? Maybe it would be best now to just point him in the direction of adult school or getting a GED.
     
  5. Mar 30, 2006 #4

    honestrosewater

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    I was in a similar situation in middle and high school (not going to school, doing drugs, etc.). I doubt he actually wants to throw his life away. He might have just given up. Is he having problems at home? That can be a huge battle, and at his age (he'll be 18 in a few years, I presume), it might not be worth fighting. If he's doing things that could easily lead to him being killed or sent to prison, I would focus on changing that first. Ask him where he wants to be 2 years from now, get him doing something that he finds rewarding, and don't be a pushover. Caring and persistence worked on me once.

    Even if it doesn't show right now, you might be helping him just by caring and trying to help, and who knows, you might be the only person is his life doing so. I saw a news special including a man who started a business employing ex-gang members. The interviewer said to him, 'So you want to give them a second chance," and he replied, 'Who gave them their first?' I really liked that. I think it's very cool that you're trying to help. :smile: I hope you are prepared to be disappointed (just in case).
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2006
  6. Mar 30, 2006 #5

    Astronuc

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    I would simply reiterate what the others have said.

    By talking to this person and being a friend, that is about all you can do at this point. In your discussions, has your friend mentioned anything about a direction for his future, e.g. education or employment.

    Your truant friend must decide for himself - no one else can do that.

    You might talk to the teacher you have in common and see if you can get her to back off ( but don't say it that way) and ask her for ideas. Talk to a school counselor as TSA suggested.

    In my many years, I have found that society doesn't deal effectively with people who need such help. In some cases, there are those who can and will provide assistance to people such as your truant friend, but I don't see it as being common.

    Good luck!
     
  7. Mar 30, 2006 #6

    DaveC426913

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    Do schools still have guidance counsellors?
     
  8. Mar 30, 2006 #7

    chroot

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    Often the guidance counselors are part of the "problem," guys. They often have the same "problem children" in their offices every few weeks, and get jaded. Many of the kids don't want help, and put up a brick wall between them and anyone who might be genuinely offering help.

    Believe it or not, I was rescued from the brink of disaster, almost exactly like this situation. I skipped 85 days of 8th grade. I failed every single subject. Every single day I went to school, someone would pick a fight with me or otherwise torture me. Admittedly, I lost more than I won, but I won many. For some reason, I was just selected by social pressure to be the kid that everyone cut their teeth on.

    One day, early in 8th grade, I was playing wall-ball with a few "friends" during lunch recess. At some point, I got pushed down, and someone across the lot yelled "White boy on the ground!"

    Before I could pick myself up, an enormous crowd of kids had gathered around me, mostly kicking me. By the end of their little ritual, I had lost four teeth, broken two fingers, one rib, and bruised several others. Eventually, the same kids who were beating me picked me up and dragged me to the principal's office. The entire crowd asserted that I was picking fights.

    Believe it or not, the principal believed them. My "friends" were nowhere to be found. After receiving some paltry medical care, I got suspended for three days for starting a fight. Me, the same kid who sat by himself on the bus every day, reading computer books, avoiding eye-contact with every other child for fear of it being seen as a challenge.

    I stopped going to school. I made 99th percentile on the standardized tests, read and wrote several grade levels higher than I should've, yet was failing every single subject. Instead, I stayed at home and learned to program my computer. Admittedly, it was the best decision I could've made. My family life was rather horrible at the time, my father recovering from a bout of alcoholism and my mother a detached manic-depressive. I found elaborate ways to decieve my parents and sister into thinking I had actually been at school all day; little did I know the school called my dad every single day and told them I was not at school. My dad knew; he just didn't care.

    How did the story end? A new counselor was hired for the school. In her first few days on the job, she went through the file of "problem children," and read about me. She said she was stunned, and couldn't understand why no one else at the school had never noticed anything odd about my case. She called me into the office immediately, and essentially offered to go to bat for me. She asked if I'd prefer to go to night school, that sort of thing. What I really wanted to do was enter the IB program at the nearby high school (ninth grade, in my school district, was still considered middle school). Of course, I didn't have the grades to get accepted through the normal means, but this woman fought for me, over the next few months. She forced the director of the IB program to take a serious look at me, call me into the office, make me write essays while sitting in front of him. Finally, they agreed to accept me, but only as an "experiment." If I didn't have my grades up within a few weeks, I would be sent back to purgatory.

    I agreed to all their conditions. When it came time to pick an elective, I picked anatomy and physiology. It was explained to me that it was a very hard class, and almost everyone who took it was a senior. I signed up for it anyway. The teacher told me she would do her best to make sure I at least got a C in the class.

    Needless to say, I aced not only that class, but every other class I was in. I made nearly straight A's for the next four years. I went to one of the ten best engineering universities in the country. I graduated cum laude. I now hold a high-profile position at a Nasdaq 100 corporation and attend Stanford part-time as a graduate student.

    I have no idea what my life would be like now had this woman not found me and tried to help me. I had $110 in my bank account at the time, and I spent every single dime buying her as many flowers as I could. No one in my entire life has had such a great impact on me as this woman had.

    So, what's my advice for your friend? Find a counselor -- at your school, or another school, if necessary -- and try to get him some professional help from a person who is not only able, but willing to give him a chance.

    - Warren
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2006
  9. Mar 30, 2006 #8

    Moonbear

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    Wow, Chroot, that's a fantastic story for you to share about yourself. I hope others who have given up on kids like you might see this and try to give them that boost they need to get back on track.

    Do you know what it was in your file that she really noticed? Was it the discrepancy between your truancy and your grades? Or did she figure out that the kid with his ribs broken and teeth knocked out by a whole crowd of school kids probably wasn't the one picking fights? (Though, I really have to wonder why there were no adults on the playground to see that and break it up and get you help...I can't even imagine something like that happening when I was in high school; it just wouldn't have even gotten that far, and if somehow the teachers showed up too late, they wouldn't have even let you move while they called an ambulance. Sometimes the entire problem boils down to a bad principal who doesn't ensure students are supervised, who doesn't have the sense to sort through kids' stories and figure out who is picking on whom, and allows those bad attitudes to spread among the teachers as well.)
     
  10. Mar 30, 2006 #9
    Warren, that story is wonderful and disgusting at the same time. I know that your apparent success speaks for itself, but doesn't that make you hate kids? You seemed to retell the story calmly without showing any hatred for the people that did these things to you. I understand that your parents weren't of much help and it's hard to fight the institution of your high school by yourself, but it seems you were dulled down into a sense of apathy! Didn't these "rituals" build anything up inside, or maybe you seemed calmer than you really were about the torture. Your story kind of reminds me of Good Will Hunting, with the exception of some certain details. Man, if I were you I'd certainly detest teenagers.
     
  11. Mar 30, 2006 #10

    Evo

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    Wow, chroot, that's incredible. You ought to sticky that in academics for kids that feel they should just give up. I know there are a lot of exceptionally bright kids that fall between the cracks and wind up wasting their lives, this might motivate some to seek out help if they aren't fortunate enough to have someone there for them.
     
  12. Mar 30, 2006 #11

    chroot

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    This school had major problems. The staff hosted a friendly, highly publicized student-vs-teacher softball game at the end of my 7th grade year. When the teachers won the game, the students rioted. The assistant principal was dragged into doorway, where some kids held him down and repeatedly smashed his head with a fire door. He spent several weeks in a hospital. Over the sumer, almost the entire school staff quit or transferred. The school ended up being understaffed, both in terms of the number of administrators, but also in their training and ability. (No wonder, right?) The administrators did the best they could to never get in the mix with the kids.

    - Warren
     
  13. Mar 30, 2006 #12

    chroot

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    Well, I'm not an unemotional person, but I certainly developed a greater degree of control over my emotions that I otherwise would've. I don't hate kids; I just hate bully kids. If I ever have children, and one turns out to be a bully, you can be damn sure he's going to get the ass-whoopings of his life from me.

    - Warren
     
  14. Mar 30, 2006 #13

    chroot

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    I can relate another day in my 8th grade life that demonstrates the sad state of that school.

    One morning, I was riding the school bus, admiring the freshly-fallen snow out the window. As I said, I had a habit of pretty much never looking at the other children, because I didn't want to "start" anything. So there I am, peering out the window, feeling rather happy because the snow was so beautiful... then bam there's a terrible pain in my face, and I'm seeing stars. I didn't realize it, but another kid had been positioning himself just right, took aim at the back of my skull, and delivered one incredible punch that sent my face into the window, inches away. Instantly, my nose began bleeding. Not just a little, but like a faucet. Of course, there are no kleenexes or nurses on a school bus, and there was no way I could contain the blood in my hands. By the time we arrived at school, perhaps twenty minutes later, I was literally soaked in blood. It was all over my shirt, pants, jacket, everywhere.

    I ran off the bus and into a bathroom. I washed my face and tried hopelessly to clean up some of the blood from my clothes. My nose was still bleeding. I sat in one stall, eventually using up the entire roll of toilet paper, before moving on to another stall. I sat in the bathroom for three entire periods, not knowing what to do. I couldn't go to class covered in blood.

    Eventually, some teacher did his rounds, looking for kids smoking in the bathrooms, and noted the pile of bloody tissue paper in the wastebasket. He made me open the stall door, saw who it was, and just said "Oh, it's you. I'll have 'em call your mother," and walked out.

    - Warren
     
  15. Mar 30, 2006 #14
    We have a Adult day school for people on the borderline of dropping out, and for anyone under 24 who wishes to get a G.E.D. Its pretty much a 4 month study guild, to prep them for the test.
    While G.E.D. won't get you into a collage, it will do for most skilled trade, Dental/Doctor asst. schools here. Its also free.
     
  16. Mar 30, 2006 #15

    Evo

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    A G.E.D. can get you into a Jr. College, then you can go to a regular college, so it's never too late. Too many people think they missed their opportunity, and that's not so, it's just a slower route.
     
  17. Mar 30, 2006 #16

    Moonbear

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    :cry: I'm so sorry you had to go through that as a child. That's just awful. :frown: Even the kid who DOES pick the fights doesn't deserve that complete lack of sympathy or caring when obviously injured.

    Your story just supports my view that many of these "troubled" schools where the teachers say they can't teach because the kids are just too unruly or unwilling to learn are really that way because the teachers just expect it of the kids, so do nothing to change it.
     
  18. Mar 30, 2006 #17

    chroot

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    Yeah. In the end, I'm not really sure I can fully blame the teachers. They were probably afraid of being attacked should they intervene. They probably just wanted to teach their lectures and go home at the end of the day in one piece. They probably had a "**** 'em" attitude towards ALL the kids at the school, including those that probably didn't deserve it.

    - Warren
     
  19. Apr 1, 2006 #18
    Hey,
    Thanks for all replies and help.

    I have been disinterested about people's suffering and life by all my life. Now it's time to help others. Together we can build a better world. You too can help :)

    Imagine a family of loving husband, wife and 4 children. And someday husband dies. A mother then has 3 logical choices (there are more, but less likely to happen.) She falls into depression, she stops working or gives up her time to work, forgetting about children, as her life just lost a sense for existence. Choice 2: She thinks that her children just experienced a terrible loss. She wants the best for them. She cares about her children as much as she can. She buys all they want, she gives them all they want, as she wants to reward their suffering. Meanwhile she doesn't notice that her children are exploiting her goodness and desire of help. (It happens to all of us. People take advantage of our weaknesses and we do the same thing. - human nature. ) Choice 3: Everything stays almost the same as before. They keep being a good family. Happens rarely - only if both wife and kids have some background of knowledge and thoughts on value of life and maybe religion. There's also another choice. Actually this one regarding kids. They really loved their father, maybe more than mother, and after their inspiration and something that gives them the sense of life is gone, they loose their mind. They start to do whatever they want, not thinking about mom. I think that my dear friend belongs partially to Choice 3 and 4. (Educated guess) I don't want to know the truth from his mouth as that may create hate and bad feelings about me. I think Whether he's 15 or 40, even 60 it is always worth fighting. Life on Earth I believe is only one, and You should use it as much for others and yourself as you can, not leaving suffering after you.

    Indeed they do. But school counselling is just a job like any others. You are to help and talk to people, but do you think people with problems are eager to talk about their problems just because she's a counsellor? We have 5000 people in school, only 4 counsellors and in order to speak to the counsellor you have to wait 2 weeks. He has the same counsellor as I do and apparently I didn't find her a person I can trust and talk to whenever I have problems, artificial care and eagerness to help can be noticed right away. Sometimes you meet extraordinary people whom you may trust and know that you can talk with them and be understood just like in Chroot's case.

    That's a great and at the same time a sad story. It remainds me of a book I read a few years ago "There's a boy in the girl's bathroom" by Louis Sachar. You can get the copy for less than a dollar at amazon. The main character was almost like you. Great book. Now it's more possible to avoid such problems. You can choose where to go to J.H.S and the H.S. As far as I know it used to be that people had to go to closest schools in their neighborhood, at least it was so in NYC. I'd like to ask you a question, you don't have to answer it if you think it offends you or is unproper, but during that time, did you think that your life doesn't have sense, God hates you and if it keeps so you will commit a suicide? (answer to this helps me more understand human nature and feelings.)

    Thank you everyone for replies and worthy advices. I decided that I will go to the guy who does suspensions and takes care of people making problems in school and simply talk to him about my friend. Recently I picked up a bible and read The Book of Job, I found it amazing how God with questions could influence a person. I'm not a great speaker and always when I want to really do something the outcome is opposite but I'll try.
    Thank you!
     
  20. Apr 1, 2006 #19

    honestrosewater

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    Sure, I meant that if he's in an abusive situation and wants to leave, getting a minor taken out of an abusive home or ending the abuse in the home can be so difficult and take such a long time, if you are successful at all, that if the minor is going to be an adult soon (at 18 in NY, yes?), it might not be worth starting the process, e.g., if his type of case usually takes at least 3 years, and he'll be an adult in 2 years.

    Best of luck to both of you.
     
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