I’ve been debating on whether to write about what happened last week at my children’s school. I wasn’t sure if I should talk about how a vetted and trusted employee of the after-school care program was arrested and charged with multiple accounts of aggravated sexual battery against children. I didn’t know if I’d be able to accurately describe the horror I felt when reading the initial email sent on Friday morning and the subsequent emails that followed. I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate to discuss how staring at the mug shot of the vile human my children high-fived more times than they can recall continues to prompt waves of nausea. And I know that I am unable to put into words just how much my heart aches for the children and their families who now find themselves navigating through a nightmare that once was only reserved for the deepest of sleeps.
The police and media swarmed our little community school when the news broke on Friday morning. As of today, the investigation is still ongoing. More victims are coming forward. The police state that this despicable human whom I interacted with in my various roles at the school spent years grooming his victims. And the police are continuing to encourage parents to talk to their children and report any ‘odd’ encounter they may have had with the man who would bring his guitar into the school and teach many aspiring musicians how to play.
My children are not in the after-school program so they did not know him as well as some of their peers. So I wondered if I should write about how on Friday evening, we sat our children down and informed them of the arrest and explained why he was arrested.
“But he was so nice!”
“Will he be okay?”
“Will he be back at our school?”
We asked our 9-year-old and 5-year-old if they ever had an encounter with the depraved individual – one that made them feel funny. They said no. We asked frank questions that caused our 9-year-old to blush. We reinforced bad touch and good touch. We talked about how it is okay to run away and tell another adult if their stomach feels funny around a certain person. We told them that some people who are really nice to kids have really bad intentions and stressed the importance of listening to their guts. This repulsive human passed multiple background checks – he simply had not been caught yet. We talked about how it is not okay for an adult to ever ask them to keep a secret from us. And we told them just how much we love them and how they should never feel embarrassed to tell us if they ever experience something ‘odd’.
I’m wasn’t sure if I should write about how I am having trouble falling to sleep because my mind is racing – wondering how we can prevent something like this from permeating into our little family. In my head I understand that we can only be so diligent – there comes a point where we have to trust the outside world in order to live. But my heart – my heart isn’t as rational.