Prose Challenge – In 250 words or less, write a story about the uncovering of a secret.
The boy came to school each day and sat in the back of my classroom. He was one of those kids you didn’t notice so much as he didn’t draw attention to himself and in a room full of attention seekers he could hide.
He came to my attention the day he wrote:
“I don’t know who to turn to. My parents refuse to listen to me, telling me not to make stories up. Today when I go home mum will say he needs me to help with the afternoon benediction. I’ll say no and mum will tell me off for disobeying him. Help me please?”
I interviewed the boy who said it was just a story. I told him he could talk to me as I had a duty through the school to protect him.
A week later he came back.
His story was horrific. His local priest had been abusing him for some years and in light of the current revelations about the extent of abuse around the world he felt that now he might be believed.
I have never seen a boy so distressed. The effect on him left him feeling worthless, his self-esteem was shattered, and he feared his story told among his classmates would make everything worse.
We didn’t allow that to happen. There were procedures to be followed and the police to be informed.
His parents, at first in denial, realised their son was a victim, and the guilt they shared was devastating for them.
We wanted the boy to stay in school, receive the counselling he deserved and try to restore to him, a life he could live.