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  1. #1
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    Self-harming kid with ADHD

    Ok so I just started a new job last week. Basically it's a private tutoring/SAT prep/after school program. The parents are very wealthy.

    Anyway the very first day I noticed a boy (about 8 or 9) who I was told had severe ADHD. Well, the boy was repeatedly throwing himself on the floor. I kept telling him to stop, but management told me to "leave him alone." When his mom arrived I wanted to talk to her about it but was dragged away by the owner, who told me sternly, "teachers are not allowed to talk to parents. These parents are very wealthy. They do not want to know the truth about their kids." Okay, so I kept my mouth shut. The next day the mom called irate that the boy had some chafing on his arm, and the owner wanted to know what happened. I pointed out that I tried to tell the mom that he was throwing himself on the floor, and she prevented me from talking to her. The owner said she'd take care of it.

    Since then I've noticed this boy repeatedly engaging in self-harming behaviors, whether it's throwing himself against a wall, kicking himself, and every adult seems to just not blink an eye. Usually, his mom doesn't pick him up, his driver picks him up. (Yes his family has a driver. And a butler.) Today there were two adults in the room besides me when he took a plastic bag and put it over his head and started tying a knot. I freaked out, screamed for him to stop, and again, the owner of the place took me to task for "freaking out." She said he was "just playing" and he has ADHD and the mom doesn't want to hear about it, so I should just calm down. I pointed out that god forbid something happened to him, we'd be responsible. She shrugged and said "that's why we have you to supervise."

    Anyway there's only three days left of this after school program, but ... what would you guys do in a situation like this? The owner seems to take a very "relaxed" attitude towards what I consider to be very disturbing behaviors. I don't want to get blamed if god forbid something happens. I found out that previous teachers quit. Should I quit?

  2. #2

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    Is this a full-time job for you? It doesn't sound like a good fit, based on what you've posted.
    "Randy [Starkman (1960-April 16, 2012)] lived by the same motto as the rest of us. The Olympics isn’t every four years, it’s every single day. He just got it." --Canadian Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden

  3. #3
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    Yes full time.

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    I think I'd be quitting -- and calling whatever agency licenses this after school 'care' program.
    Haunting the Princess of Pink since 20/07/11...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Really View Post
    I think I'd be quitting -- and calling whatever agency licenses this after school 'care' program.
    I'd be noting everything that has happened in detail, and then doing exactly this.

    I actually think I would also try and speak to the parents.

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    Teachers are not allowed to get access to contact information for the parents. No phone numbers, nothing. And if we try to speak to them in case they pick the child up (usually it's a driver) we are dragged away.

    Is this kind of behavior "normal" for a kid with ADHD? I'm thinking it's not.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by canbelto View Post
    Is this kind of behavior "normal" for a kid with ADHD? I'm thinking it's not.
    There's no such thing as "normal" when it comes to attention disorders, or most special needs, but it isn't common, no. The child needs to be assessed by a professional (psychologist), but in order to have that happen, everyone would need to admit there's something wrong. It doesn't sound like his only issue is ADHD, that's for sure. For all you know, these behaviours could be isolated to the programme/place you work, and that's a huge problem (I doubt this, but it's impossible to know) but either way, if there's nothing you can do, there's nothing you can do. I think your supervisor is WAY out of line, and does need to be reported. It's up the parents to follow through or not follow through based on information given, but you are obliged to give them the information. Self-harming behaviours for children sometimes also need to be reported to other agencies/departments by law as well, so you should check up on that.

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    Other stuff the child has done:

    1. Told he that he wanted to take out his wiener and "piss in my drink and watch you drink it."
    2. Purposely ran into girls and then squeezed their nipples (again, adults laughed).
    3. When I told him he can't inappropriately touch people he said "I can touch whoever I want at home wherever I want" and then grabbed his crotch.

    Keep in mind he's 7 or 8.

    owner also let it slip that ACS has a "monitor" to "supervise" the "relationship" at home and the mom doesn't want the supervisor to "know" anything.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by canbelto View Post
    Other stuff the child has done:

    1. Told he that he wanted to take out his wiener and "piss in my drink and watch you drink it."
    2. Purposely ran into girls and then squeezed their nipples (again, adults laughed).
    3. When I told him he can't inappropriately touch people he said "I can touch whoever I want at home wherever I want" and then grabbed his crotch.

    Keep in mind he's 7 or 8.

    owner also let it slip that ACS has a "monitor" to "supervise" the "relationship" at home and the mom doesn't want the supervisor to "know" anything.
    Again, there definitely sounds like something other than ADHD at play. I would report the owner, and I wouldn't actually trust anything he says. I would probably report the self-harm to ACS, as well as the inappropriate touching of others (and the inappropriate reaction of adults). The parents of the girls he is running into also should be told. Sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen. The fact that the person who is working directly with the child (you) is unable to talk directly to the parents is a major issue, as well as the reaction of adults also seeing the behaviours. Shameful, but also encouraging the child. Adults laughing at the behaviour is inexcusable.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Really View Post
    I think I'd be quitting -- and calling whatever agency licenses this after school 'care' program.
    And I would be doing it tomorrow. You could be held liable if that child harms himself while in your care.
    DH - and that's just my opinion

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    Do you have the sense that child services will also bow to the will of the rich parents? I could definitely see that happening, especially if child services is overworked and understaffed. If they "see nothing wrong", will there likely be any consequences for you (in addition to quitting)? Reporting is the right way to go - just want you to be prepared for consequences of reporting, if there are any. Do you know any of the other former teachers who quit recently? Maybe you could compare notes.

    Why do I keep hearing the "affluenza" defense in my mind?
    Last edited by KCC; 06-24-2014 at 06:50 AM.

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    I think the consequences of not reporting could be far more severe for all involved, and ethically and probably legally, you should report it, to protect yourself and do the right thing by the children involved.

    I definitely think the behaviour of all adults and the behaviour involving other children needs to be reported in addition to the self-harm and the owner's behaviour.

    Not an easy situation to be in, canbelto

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    The behaviors you describe aren't ADHD symptoms. Some of the behaviors sound more like some types of autism than ADHD, but if autism is a factor, it's not the only factor. I also sense ODD and perhaps even RAD--both common reactions to abuse and neglect.

    Document your ass off. See if you can get in contact with the previous teachers. It will bolster your defense in the case of a lawsuit. And I'm pretty sure there will be a lawsuit when he hurts another child.

    In fact, by posting on this website, you are essentially admitting that you have good reason to suspect abuse and dangerous behavior. If you don't report it, that will be used against you in any legal proceeding. If one of the sexually harassed students tells her parents, you will have major legal problems for not reporting it. Failure to report child abuse can lead to jail time in many states.

    And quit. Tomorrow. If shit hits the fan, the owner will try to pin it on you. You will be fired sooner or later anyway, and that is a worse outcome than you quitting. And when the lawyers come knocking, they'll say that you permitted these behaviors, and the fact that they fired you demonstrates that they are responsible owners.

    Quote Originally Posted by canbelto View Post
    I pointed out that god forbid something happened to him, we'd be responsible. She shrugged and said "that's why we have you to supervise."
    And that's exactly what they'll tell a jury. In fact, I'm pretty sure she pretended to be ignorant and placed the blame solely on you when the mom called. One of the sexually harassed students may tell her parents, and the parents will come after you. Maybe even social services will come after you.
    Last edited by Gazpacho; 06-24-2014 at 12:10 PM.

  14. #14
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    That sounds like an awful situation, canbelto.

    I'd quit too. If there was any way you could help, then you could stay and try. But if all the power is taken out of your hands, the only thing you can do is enable. By staying and doing the bidding of your superiors, you'd be enabling this.

    Definitely cover your own butt and report it too. You want to make sure you aren't liable for anything.

    Ugh, it really sounds like some people shouldn't be parents.

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    I'm shocked in that my assumption would be that you, and anyone else working there, are mandatory reporters. That goes for more than just suspected abuse, it goes for this type of thing too. I'd absolutely document everything, call child services, and get the heck out of that job.

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    What a terrible situation, Canbelto! And strange.

    I too think you would have a responsibility to report. But, I would also be scared that child services might not do anything.

    Most of all, get out of there before you end up on some sort of trouble! And by all means do contact the previous teachers.

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    With what you described am not sure why do you define the kid as SELF harming. Sounds like he is harming the other kids much more than himself.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by KCC View Post
    Do you have the sense that child services will also bow to the will of the rich parents? I could definitely see that happening, especially if child services is overworked and understaffed.
    Quote Originally Posted by Japanfan View Post
    I too think you would have a responsibility to report. But, I would also be scared that child services might not do anything.
    I would be (pleasantly) surprised if child services does anything about it. But in this case, because the circumstances are so severe, you have to take the chance that your reporting it will, at the very least, not make things worse for the child. And they will almost certainly make things better for other children.

    Whatever you do, QUIT IMMEDIATELY. There sounds like there is nothing you can do within the school to change the situation. There is no benefit to you or the students if you stay. The only way you can positively change the situation is by going outside the school.

    DOCUMENT YOUR ASS OFF. I don't know what state you're in. You may want to check if the state allows you to secretly record a conversation. The owners will try to place the blame squarely on your shoulders. You need to protect yourself.

    CONTACT AN ATTORNEY to see what you can do to prevent future liability when (not if) there is a lawsuit. As you said, the parents in this school are very wealthy. They will have the best attorneys that money can buy. And like I said earlier, your posting on this internet forum may be used as evidence against you if you don't report it and this child ends up seriously hurting another child. Contact the attorney no later than the end of the week.

    The fact that parents in this school are wealthy could actually be good in terms of social services involvement. After you quit and contact an attorney, perhaps contact some parents of children who are subjected to sexual harassment by the student. There's a decent chance that at least one of the parents will go apeshit on the school and demand action by social services. But you need to be delicate, as parents will have strong emotional reactions to hearing that their children are being victimized, and they may blame the messenger. I highly recommend not telling the parents until after you report to social services so you can say to them that this is going on and you've contacted social services. That way, they'll know to put pressure on social services.

    Like I said earlier, also contact previous teachers.

    One final possibility: Do you have a therapist or counselor? If you report your suspicion of abuse to a therapist or counselor, I believe that in some places, the therapist/counselor is required to pass the information on to social services. They may want you to do it yourself, but try to get them to do it for you or to do it as a joint effort. They may know people in social services and know how to get things accomplished. A clergyman may also be able to help.
    Last edited by Gazpacho; 06-24-2014 at 12:11 PM.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by canbelto View Post
    Other stuff the child has done:

    3. When I told him he can't inappropriately touch people he said "I can touch whoever I want at home wherever I want" and then grabbed his crotch.
    Poor driver. Poor butler.

    If you have other job options, you might want to consider quitting. Then of course do whatever you think would be the in best interest of the kid, the other kids, the kids that will be attending the falicity in the future, and yourself.

    I can't tell you what I'd do in your shoes, because I haven't walked a mile in them.

    I hope the driver and the butler have other job options too.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by canbelto View Post
    Anyway there's only three days left of this after school program, but ... what would you guys do in a situation like this? The owner seems to take a very "relaxed" attitude towards what I consider to be very disturbing behaviors. I don't want to get blamed if god forbid something happens. I found out that previous teachers quit. Should I quit?
    I am not sure if this is related to ADHD or extreme negative attention-getting behavior. (Could be the other things that Gazpacho listed.) The fact that adults are laughing at him, makes me believe that it is the latter. So, do not verbally address the behavior. Keep the child safe, but don't say anything about the behavior and do not make eye contact with him during those times. I'd say overboard with positive praise, so that the child will not seek negative attention, but there are only two days of school left. If you stay at this job, demand that the school to bring in a psychologist and a behavioral therapist. (I would not blame you if you quit.)

    A friend of mine recently had a transition to school meeting for her little boy who has CP, profound hearing loss, expressive and receptive language delays. My friend was very anxious about the meeting, but it went very well. At the end of the meeting, the principal reassured her by saying that they don't mind working with special-needs kids. He said that they can bring in resources and supports to meet the child's needs. The principal said that their difficulty is trying to work with behavioral kids whose parents are in denial that anything is wrong. So, you are not alone.

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