Saturday, September 09, 2006

How Teens Grieve

When death occurs to high school populations the media shows heavy doses of mourning parents and grief-stricken teens. In suburban schools that can afford it, grief-counselors practice their counseling skills with the parties involved.

For the majority of schools that aren't failing, grief is an uncommon event.

I spent a short time having a conversation with a Hartford inner-city school teacher last night. He works in a community where death and killing of teens is a relatively common occurance. The following conversation is a composite approximation of what he talked about.

"They decorate their notebooks with the list of their dead friends. Sometimes they'll decorate the names. They don't know how to grieve so that's what they do."

"But aren't those markings gang symbols?"

"Sometimes. But not often.

They will say. "He shouldn't have been walking there" or "He was in the wrong place." They have no rationale for why their friend is dead so they blame the victim.

One of the saddest things are three day weekends. When we have to tell them that there's no school on a Friday or Monday, their heads drop to their chests in disappointment.

You see, they're scared. Everyone of them is scared and school is the only place they can socialize and feel safe. When there's no school many of them can't leave the house. It's too dangerous."

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