NORMAN — Q: I have a gut feeling that one of my son’s friends is being hit by someone in his family. We have seen bruises and scratches. When I have asked him what happened, he is uncomfortable and his story just doesn’t seem right. What should I do?
— Name Withheld
A: As educators, we have to deal with this type of issue regularly. We are trained to realize it is not our responsibility to try and figure out what happened. Our responsibility is to let the authorities investigate and make the determination as to whether there is actual abuse.
As a citizen of the state of Oklahoma, if you suspect abuse, you are required to notify the Department of Human Services. This can be done anonymously and is a very simple phone call.
You will need to have as much information as you can, such as phone number, address, number of people and names of those in the household. Any other information you can give them is helpful. It’s also best to notify them when something on the child’s body is visible.
All workers are very nice and supportive. The phone number for the statewide abuse hotline is 800-522-3511. They will give you a referral number at the end of your call. This way, you can call back and check on the status of your report.
As counselors, we have had to make this call many times.
We know it can be a little uncomfortable the first time you make a call. Please realize this is for the safety and well-being of a child. You are doing the right thing. Please make the call.
Q: School has always been my 16-year-old daughter’s least favorite place to be. She recently informed me that she can drop out of school, since she has turned 16. Is this really true?
— Janine, Oklahoma City
As much as kids would like to think they had this much control, the answer is no. State law prohibits anyone under the age of 18 dropping out of school without parental consent. Many kids think that because they can drop out at 16 with parents’ approval, they will be able to coerce their parents into signing the necessary paperwork.
If your daughter is that unhappy getting her education in a traditional setting, you may want to investigate with her counselor the many options available to her. We believe that allowing any aged child to drop out of school before finishing their high school graduation requirements should be considered the worst disservice you could ever do your child.
We would suggest you have a serious conversation with your daughter, which would include paper, pencil and a calculator. How will she support herself without at least a high school diploma? Minimum-wage jobs are most likely her only option for employment.
If she would research the costs of rent, insurance, groceries, bills, gas — not including entertainment, Internet, cable or phone — she will find that working full time in one of these low paying jobs will most likely not even pay the necessities.
You need to ask yourself if you allow her to drop out, are you going to continue supporting her? Remember, sometimes you have to love your kids enough to let them hate you.
Please send questions to email@example.com. Sally and Jeannie are certified school counselors with more than 50 years combined educational experience. Jeannie has two children, Sally three. The responses presented don’t necessarily reflect the views of any certain school district.
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