Getting into trouble for what some would call normal childhood spats and behavior sometimes led to me standing all night as punishment. A simple lamp with the shade removed, it turns out, projected the perfect silhouette onto the wall of the woman who fostered us for a number of years.
It was incredibly difficult to sleep while standing. So it was not uncommon for my siblings and I to take turns posted as close to the lamp as we could to project a super-sized shadow on the wall. In the darkness of the night, this allowed us to alternate sneaking in a few uncomfortable moments of sleep on the hardwood floor but still too jumpy to relax into a deep sleep. Our greatest fear was that she would awake.
It is sometimes hard for adults to understand that children endure many things outside of the confines of school. Those everyday issues may be less perverse than my experience, but they nonetheless produce similar outcomes: lack of focus, loss of confidence, and erosion of trust. What good can come of this? It takes incredible energy, patience, and love to help young people overcome traumatic experiences and be able to focus. My experience has been that some things are really hard to overcome, but you learn how to cope. Fostering good coping skills is one of the ways that we can change the trajectory of a generation.