Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Heart Broken - When Children Go Astray

Another teacher mentioned today that there was an article in the newspaper I should read. When I said I didn't get the newspaper, she told me I could check online - that it would probably be on the newspaper's website. I went to the newspaper's website - something I've probably only done a couple of times before. I never got around to looking for the article because as soon as the site came up on the screen, I noticed that they had a button to click for local stories. One of the stories was about a string of nearby home burglaries. Nearby burglaries concern me. So I clicked that link instead.

It seems that an alert police officer noticed a car being driven erratically and heading away from a home that had been burglarized. He stopped the car, questioned the young driver and found some of the stolen jewelry inside. The guy had burglarized five nearby homes - stealing jewelry, bottles of wine and DVDs. He was charged with five counts of aggravated burglary and, as of yesterday afternoon, has not made bail.

I felt sick when I read the next part of the article because it listed the full name and address of the "man" who had committed the crimes. It was an 18-year old former student of mine. A boy I've known since he was in kindergarten when his older sister was in my class. A couple years later, when he reached second grade, he also was in my class. Smart - a handful - and the apple of his mother's eye. He was one of those students that made a lasting impression - a student and family I will always remember.

My heart is now broken for him and his family. I can only imagine what might have led to his actions. His mother and older sister must be light years beyond devastated and humilated. And I wonder how he is 18-year old in an adult jail?

What do you do when someone you know has been arrested? It's a small community - everyone knows. Do you send a card to him or his mom? Do you call or visit? Do you write an email? If so, what do you say? Is there ettiquette for handling something like this.

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