Take a look at the local newspaper, the crime reports will tell the story of the community that we live in: Senior citizens being mugged, drive by shootings, children being shot dead while sleeping, daily large street fights, arsons, babies making babies, rampant STDs. Lest we forget - the run down properties, lead paint, large groups of people without jobs, generations of families unemployed, run down sidewalks and streets, rat problems, sewer problems, closed neighborhood schools, schools without books, failing schools, fighting in schools.
When you look at the overall picture, it becomes clear that a segment of our community is living in chaos. There are neighborhoods that have set their own rules, there is no fear of the police, and the neighborhoods are run by the criminals who live and/or congregate there.
Any child that comes out of the environment mentioned above and who is not traumatized, would be unique.
All things considered, is it any wonder that children in Peoria’s inner city are experiencing thoughts, emotions, and feelings of being out of control? They are fearful of the future and are dealing with the anxiety and pain associated with living in chaos the best way they know how.
Events that can induce trauma include the sudden death of a loved one, assaultive violence (combat, domestic violence, rape, torture, mugging), serious accidents, witnessing someone being injured or killed, or discovering a dead body. Trauma is an ordinary day in the life of the children in District #150 and more specifically in Peoria’s inner city.
Recently I experienced an up close look at a disruptive classroom. While I understood that the children misbehaving were more than likely acting out; while I understood that suspensions are known to be a direct linkage to children being incarcerated; while I understood that children do not learn while they are out of school… it did not stop me from wanting these children to go away, so that the classroom could calm down and so that the children who came to learn could get the education that they are entitled to.
It is a well known fact that in the past, District #150 was all too quick to sideline a certain segment of the student body. As a result, those that were sidelined never received the education that they should have. In an effort to right the wrongs of the past, we can’t just now say no we are no longer handling discipline and suspensions like we have in the past, without putting sufficient supports, policies and procedures in place to handle the issues.
There are no easy answers, but it is absolutely imperative that we find it in our hearts to stop blaming the victims. I know that when you are in the trenches getting cussed out by a ten year old, it’s difficult. It's also difficult when you are a parent with a student who is caught in the chaos. However, we must all remain mindful of the fact that it will take a village to find a way to pull these children, who are shouting out for help, out of the chaos.