The End of Innocence

“‘Aren’t there any grown-ups at all?’
‘I don’t think so.’”

William Golding, Lord of the Flies


In an inner-city school beset by truancy, the presence of a 13-year-old pupil an hour before the first lesson suggests something is amiss.  “Good morning, Kim,” I said.  “What brings you in so early?”

Kim didn’t answer immediately.  She turned her face toward me, but her eyes didn’t engage.  She had a dazed and disconnected look.

“It’s my mum, sir,” she said.  “She’s dead.”

I was shocked.  I expressed sympathy, and asked what had happened.  “I found her an hour ago,” she replied.  “On the kitchen floor.  She must have OD’d or done some bad stuff.  She was cold.  She must have died in the night.”

I asked Kim if she had called the police or an ambulance.  “No,” she replied.  “I didn’t know what to do and there was no one to ask.  So I came here.”

Kim was one of many poorly parented children I worked with during my six months as a school “counselor,” and the amount of parenting she got didn’t change much on her...

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