There is a video circulating of a school police officer (why? why is this a thing?) tearing a young woman out of her desk.
We are horrified (I hope.) Some of the old standbys have been dragged out. What happened before? What did she do to deserve it?
I can not even care.
The story comes out, in bits and pieces, the way things do on the internet. It’s like putting together a puzzle without the box. It won’t make sense until all the pieces are fitted into place.
The newest pieces, though, broke my heart.
She is in care.
As and adult, I look around at my life. I see my home, my love, my job, my stability. I imagine it all gone. If the worst thing I were to do is be on my phone at an inopportune time? That’s entirely reasonable.
My empathy runs over.
My family sent me away. They cut me out. I ended up in care. I lived in a group home with 4 other girls.
I fell completely apart. I was self destructive. I was angry. I was probably pretty fucking frustrating. Because I was vulnerable, I was re-victimized by people who saw my instability as opportunity.
I may have looked defiant or even completely normal (amazingly few folks knew when I was homeless) but I was not.
I was a maelstrom and I deserved to be.
I am glad there were no police officers in my school. I appreciate that the colour of my skin kept me safer. I know that teachers who showed compassion rather than strict adherence to structures not build for broken-hearted teens saved me a similar fate.
I worry for her. I worry because the piling on of tragedy can set a pattern in motion that is hard to pull out of. I worry because she is experiencing in public what I was fortunate enough to experience in private. I worry because we treat people’s lives like fiction. This is not fiction. It is not okay. It is her reality and that reality is more common than you know.
Dear broken-hearted teens – I am sorry. I am sorry we treat you like anything less than a human in need. I am sorry we do not have empathy, that we do not have resources, that we do not see you.
I am so, so sorry.