NORMAN — Q: I was dropping my son off at middle school last week and it was 9 degrees. I could not believe the number of kids going into the building in ridiculously cold weather with inappropriate clothing. Some were even wearing flip flops. I saw T-shirts with no coats, shorts and just sweatshirts.
I am appalled. How can their parents let them out of the house dressed like that on a deathly cold day? Can the school do anything about this? Isn’t that considered child abuse or neglect?
— Steaming Mad Mom
Dear Steaming Mad Mom, Although in a perfect world every child would be fed, clothed, loved and allowed and encouraged to thrive, this is not a perfect world. Here are just a few reasons those children come to school dressed as they are:
· They have none of the needed clothing.
· Their parent leaves for work at 6 a.m. and has no idea what they are wearing.
· There is one coat in the family and it was given to their younger sibling.
· They seek attention and sympathy.
· They think they look tough and “cool” and act as if they are not freezing.
We could go on and on ...
We once taught a family of three children who were being raised by their mother. They literally had one pair of socks, one coat and one sweatshirt, which they traded amongst the kids. On days when one of them wore the socks, that same one didn’t get the coat or sweatshirt. It was heartbreaking, to say the least.
A very generous, anonymous patron gave Sally $1,000 to take the kids shopping. It is still one of the biggest thrills of her life. Seeing those kids’ eyes when they each had six pairs of socks will forever be a treasured moment.
If you would like to donate nice articles of clothing, coats or money to purchase items, call your school’s counselors or PTSA officers to find out specific needs. As counselors, we always preferred that a cash donation not be given directly to a family. You just never know where that might end up.