This Child’s Traumatic Experience Will Leave Every Parent Furious

School has begun again across the U.S., and parents and children are caught up in the excitement of a new year full of new experiences and opportunities.

As parents, we all pray that our children are in good hands at school while they are away from us during the day, being cared for by a supportive staff who gets to know them and helps them achieve their potential.

For one Canadian mother, however, her child’s recent experience on the first day of school became a nightmare — one that none of us could imagine for our own children.

Debbie Kiroff’s eight-year-old son has special needs ranging from behavioral issues like anger and times of intense agitation where he runs away from situations in order to calm himself, to a learning disability.

He had recently begun the school year at Holland Landing Public School in Ontario, Canada — in fact, it was his first day of class.

His mother had taken time prior to the start of the school year to speak with the administration about her son’s needs and learning disability and was assured he would be monitored and kept safe.

“They know he’s a runner,” [Ms. Kiroff] told CBC Toronto. “When I first brought him to the school, I said to them, ‘He likes to run. That’s his release.'”

But on the very first day, her son became upset over the use of a computer by another child.  His behavior began to escalate, and the principal called his mother to come to the school.

Ms. Kiroff had no choice but to wrap up some loose ends at work before leaving, so she sent her adult daughter to the school in her place.  By the time she got there, it was too late.

The boy had run off of school property, and the administration called the police to handle it.  He was placed in the back of a police car without the school reaching out to Ms. Kiroff again, and was being taken alone to a local hospital when his sister arrived.

Ms. Kiroff’s son was taken to Southlake Regional Health Centre. When she arrived there, she had to wait an astonishing15 to 20 minutes before being allowed to see her child. She was told by a nurse that, “I just wanted to let you know that we had to restrain him … and also inject him with a sedative,” according to CBC News, to which his mother responded by asking, “You can do that without my consent?”

Ms. Kiroff told CBC News:

“As soon as I saw him, I could tell by his eyes that he’d been through a big ordeal. I’ve never seen that look in his eyes before.”

“‘I don’t feel that good; I feel a little weird,'” she says her son told her. 

“The restraints were pretty tight. He was telling me, “‘Please, mommy. Get them off. They’re too tight.'”

The eight-year-old says he was told that if he calmed down, they would take the restraints off one at a time, but that they didn’t and ended up injecting him instead.

Kiroff said her son was in restraints for at least an hour-and-a-half.  When finally able to go home, he was obviously traumatized by the experience and was not allowed to return to the school for almost two weeks.

“He’s hesitant … he never wants to be back at the hospital,” Kiroff told CBC News.

The shocking treatment of the boy showcases problems within Canada due to a lack of support systems for children with special needs.

The Ministry of Children and Youth Services has raised the argument for opening more centers, providing more training to public school staff, and instituting a prioritized waitlist process for children with the most immediate needs for support, but it will take time to pass legislation.

CBC News reported:

In a heated exchange in the Ontario Legislature last week, the Opposition leader took the Liberal government to task over the treatment of a Toronto-area boy who was restrained and sedated on his first day of school. 

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said story “left a knot in the pit of [his] stomach,” and the actions of the school and hospital are “disgusting and unacceptable.”

“We need less wait-lists, because an eight-year-old needs the help now. A year from now, there’s so much more damage that could be done … Are we going to be looking at more incidents like this? Or on the worst extreme, him actually hurting himself?”

In addressing the legislature, Brown said, “I want everyone in the chamber to imagine if this was your nephew, if this was your child or son … no parent should ever have to hear an eight-year-old child plead with them to have restraints removed. How will they guarantee that no other child in Ontario will be shackled and sedated?”

New legislation was introduced earlier this year to transform special needs and mental health services in schools and education centers, providing more information and easier access for families.

Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter said her government is “providing the supports in our school system for students with special needs, for students who have mental health needs,” and that it is making “necessary investments” for students to have “every opportunity to succeed.”

“It appears that student well-being was jeopardized [in this case.]” 

“I have asked my ministry to monitor this situation closely and I’m encouraged by the fact that the school administration is investigating this incident,” she said. “It is my expectation that this student will have adequate supports to learn and to thrive.”

Ms. Kiroff said that she had placed her son on the waitlists of several centers run by Child and Family Services to provide support for children with needs like her son’s — but the waitlist process can take over a year before a child is seen and provided services.

Since the original story was reported, Ms. Kiroff has been contacted by several of the centers to which she had applied for services, and her son has been offered a spot in one which will allow for supportive techniques for use in school — and will involve her input and participation.

Ms. Kiroff told CBC News,

“I would love my son to thrive in exactly the way he is — he’s got a lot of great qualities. He’s very smart, so I just want him to start learning and control his way of thinking. He’s only little, he doesn’t know 100 percent yet.”

How do you feel about this shocking situation?  What would you do if it were your child?

Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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