It's not just you anymore...

Among the hours of dross piped through the TV into our homes each night, every now and then we see something that makes us think. Last night was one of those occasions.

Flicking through the channels, I came across a documentary following the lives of children going through the education system in East London. Much of the show was focused around the inane banter, successes and failures of our next generation, but one child stood out. Struggling in mainstream classes, the child had already been excluded from one school for bad behaviour before arriving at our shows destination.

The crew followed him over the weeks as he swore at and fought with teachers, disrupted lessons and the work of those around him and went from stand-off to stand-off as the school days went on. For long periods, he was absent from school altogether with his mother unable to get him to attend. The head teacher worked tirelessly with the boy himself and his parents to get him back on track - but it was all in vain. Following a week of absence and then a refusal to leave a class when asked by a teacher after yet another incident of bad behaviour, the decision was made to remove him from the school and try and get him enrolled in a local college that specialised in helping children with special needs.

I am pretty sure you have a mental image by now of what this child looked, spoke and acted like. But you would be wrong. This child was well presented, well spoken and generally well liked by his peers and in fact the teachers (when he behaved!). He was passionate about poetry and showed real flair when presenting Shakespeare to his classmates. He was intelligent and able to apply himself yet, frequently, he flew off the handle and completely broke down.

Take a moment to think about what affliction would cause his behaviour. ADHD, Asperger's, depression, bullying....What's your diagnosis?

This child was suffering from Divorce. He talked opening about the separation of his parents on Christmas day and about how his father leaving had affected him. He talked about how his mother cries and sometimes struggles to cope. His older and younger sisters also attended the school and the program showed them comforting each other during breaks. He talked about how angry he gets when he thought about how his parents have ruined their lives after 20 years of marriage. He told the camera crew that sometimes its all he could think about...

Before their breakup, this child was just another normal student.

When you have a family, you make a commitment to them that you will provide them with a stable home-life. That you will show them what a loving relationship is and that you will help them day to day to be the best people they can be. A divorce destroys that.

Of course, there are cases where parents separate and the children sail through the breakup with few problems. Then there are the cases, like this one, where a separation has such a massive effect on a child that they self destruct, get thrown out of their school and end up in a special needs college. That special needs college may not offer the same opportunities that a mainstream school does and a child's very attendance there will taint their future. Employers may see the education history on a CV years later a decline jobs based on it. Universities may (and many do) exclude children who come from special needs schools.

The child who's parent split up when he was just 12, may just feel the ripples of that every day of their lives.

Think about it.

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