Monday, February 26, 2007


I caught two of my students huffing paint today. I kept smelling fumes. I thought at first they must be painting at the construction site next door. For several days this went on. Each time I would get up and check on the kids, but they all seemed innocently engaged in something legal, so I chalked it up to the construction site. Today, I caught them red handed.

I was shocked to say the least. I mean, you always think you've taught them better than that, that they are smarter than that, then they go and suprise you by doing something so stupid. I told them as much. I made them hand over their paraphenalia and come downstairs so Nikko could participate in the impending lecture.

I told them that their behavior both shocked and frightened me. Huffing kills hundreds of teens every year in the United States, no telling how many in Mexico as I doubt that sort of thing gets recorded. I told them about how limiting oxygen to the brain can leave you with irreversable brain damage. I told them I didn't want to lose them, and that this had to stop.

I asked them why they did it? Were they bored (I could certainly find them something to do) Were they seeking a high? (Because a good run, or excercise of any kind will give them a high without the negative side effects) Or were they trying to escape reality somehow? I harped on this point a little bit. If something was bothering them, or hurting them, getting high wasn't going to make it go away. The high fades, the pain returns. It would do them both better to talk about whats going on. I care, I'm here to listen. Talking about things heals the wounds. Huffing isn't going to solve anything, it will just make things worse. I couldn't think of any other reasons why they might do such a thing, as I am not a teenage boy and therefore, don't think like one. This is something I had no desire to do when I was a kid so I really have no idea where this stuff comes from.

After our talk, they both looked ashamed and embarrassed, sorry that they got caught, not sorry that they did it. One of them was still denying actually doing the huffing while a ring of yellow paint still clung to his lips. I was at a loss. I let them go as it was time for class to begin. They both took off, and didn't attend afternoon classes.

I'm fresh out of ideas on how to cope with these kids sometimes. They get plenty of drug education. They know the dangers. For some reason, I can't convince them, that bad things can, in fact, happen to them. They all think they have some kind of super hero strength, they think they will live forever. How can I speak to them in a language they can understand and relate to?

So what are my options? Go talk to their parents? I hate doing that because they both have single working mothers, who are already doing the best that they can, and have admitted to me openly that they can't control their boys. I also don't want the boys to lose the confindence the boys have in me. I want them to come and talk to me when they are upset (Instead of doing something stupid and dangerous like huffing). But they can't think I'm going to go to their parents over every little thing. We made that mistake last semester. It did absolutely no good to talk to parents about behavior problems at school. I could suspend them, but really what purpose would that serve? At least if they are in class they are engaged in something positive and not on the street with nothing better to do than experiement with drugs. I feel really strongly that I need to address the underlying problem but I don't know what it is!

The boys did come back to the school about an hour ago and talk to me. They wanted to know if they were trouble, I told them they weren't. I was just worried about their wellbeing. They both assured me it would never happen again. That they wanted to stay in school and do something with their lives. They didn't want to disapoint themselves, their families or me. They both appologized and we hugged on it. I guess I can only hope they mean what they say.

Sometimes I think kids do things, just to see if anyone cares?

1 comment:

Debra Kay said...

The scariest part is they don't realize they are killing themselves. Sometimes I think that that is just a form of natural selection, but unfortunately, some of the best minds are inclined to try such things. I'm glad that you found out what was going on-if they are eager to remain in school that is a good thing. Hopefully they will get their priorities in order.