Richard* came to KidsPeace in May of 2007 dressed in a pressed pink button down shirt with a bright pair of pink shoes and a smile that peeked out from some long shaggy hair. He was a 13-year-old boy who had just been kicked out of his previous placement because the clinicians there had not successful at helping him with his issues. Upon his arrival, we learned that Richard had been physically and sexually abused by his father and was neglected by his mother before coming into DFCS custody.
His first month at KidsPeace affirmed that Richard was a true abuse survivor, as evidenced by his getting angry and scared with little provocation, difficulty trusting adults and little to no self-confidence. Richard’s typical day was spent punching mats, cursing and pushing everybody away. The therapist helped him understand and accept that he did not deserve to be abused and how he could protect himself in the future. The entire staff at KidsPeace and the Bowdon community showed him that most adults can be trusted. The therapist also taught Richard’s mother appropriate parenting skills; she educated her on the role of a mother and emphasized her responsibility to protect him from any possible future abuse. Richard was finally able to talk about his sadness and began to open up about the hopes and dreams he has in his life, he was able develop a plan for what he needs to do if anybody ever tries to hurt him. Once the “real” young man came to light, Richard began to win the hearts of staff and students alike. KidsPeace discovered he felt best when he was able to work hard, and when he felt like people cared about him.
The day before Valentine’s Day, this boy dressed in pink, about two inches taller, hair cut and styled, left to step down to a group home that was closer to his mom’s house. During a recent training off-campus, this client’s therapist ran into some staff from the group home who shared they had put Richard to work in the kitchen and he continues to do well. He is able to attend a public school and has been able to control his anger and express himself appropriately. The family has been able to participate in weekly counseling, and Richard is hoping to return home soon.
*Name changed to protect privacy