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Err on the Side of Compassion

14 Feb

Err on the Side of Compassion

Posted By: 
Tamra Excell

*This article was originally published on www.TamraExcell.com*

Teachers were reacting

To an article about a former student

Who had been raped

Before she came to us

Who had not told anybody

Until after she left us

Nobody knew

How can we make sure that we know these things?

The teachers were asking

And they began to brainstorm

Student information system

Digital documentation

Communication applications

And I interrupted.

And what will you document?

You won’t know. Most of the time, you won’t know.

Then we need to ask, the teachers were saying. We need to inquire and open up that communication, and…

How?

Do you introduce yourself and ask, “Have you been raped?” Or go down the list of many, many, other possible traumas?

You won’t know. Most of the time, you won’t know.

Because you cannot know.

And did you know… it isn’t your right to know.

It isn’t your place to demand this information. You are not entitled to this.

Yes. Mandatory reporting, is a must

But until you have that trust

You might miss the signs, and the actual danger might be in the past.

Because those signs look different ways for different kids.

Often misinterpreted, or totally misread.

Trauma a year ago feels like trauma yesterday, so the past is now even though there’s nothing to report.

Yes, I know you want to help, and that this information would make it so much easier to do so. I understand this. But you won’t know. Most of the time, you won’t know.

So what can we do?

Err on the side of compassion.

If a student is struggling, assume that there is a good reason for it. Even if you are given what seems to be a weak reason, know that this may not be the only reason, or even the real reason… and err on the side of compassion.

No, this doesn’t mean become a doormat. This doesn’t mean putting up with you or others suffering abuse. I don’t speak of enabling bullying.

I speak of not being the bully.

I speak of creating a safe space. So maybe the student can share with you. If they… so choose.

I speak of empowering student voice. So they can have a say in their education, in their life, and move forward the best way they can. With or without telling you everything.

I speak of holding space. Say, I am here for you, if you need me. No judgment.

No judgment.

Err on the side of compassion.

The student who was a rape victim gained her voice over time. With a stronger voice, she was able to break her silence. And now she is serving as the voice of others.

SHE did this, this healing…. During the time she was with us. She blossomed. Without us ever knowing. We erred on the side of compassion.

So that’s what we continue to do.

For so many other students who come to us this way, this is what we do.

And there’s no app for that. This comes from heart.