A Little Girl gets a Chance at a New Life
In Torey Hayden's book, One Child, I met a child named Sheila. Sheila was a sad, abused, emotionally disturbed, and broken little girl. Six year old Sheila was headed for an empty life with a future in a state mental institution when she landed, by chance, in Torey Hayden's special education class. Sheila was headed for the mental institution as a last resort. She had been in and out of placement in schools, and had made no improvement.
The breaking point for little Sheila's future happened when Sheila kidnapped a toddler in her neighborhood, and tied the little boy to a tree. Mercilessly, Sheila set fire to the child and watched him burn until someone came to his rescue. The little boy survived, but just barely. He was very badly burned, and his family demanded retaliation. The court had sentenced Sheila to residency in the state mental institution. Torey Hayden's class was meant to be a temporary placeholder for Sheila until a spot in the local mental hospital opened up. Little did anyone know hat one year under the wing of this special teacher would change Sheila's life forever.
When Sheila arrived in Torey's class, she displayed almost no characteristics of a normal emotionally healthy child. She hated everyone. Sheila did not speak at all, she did not respond, except for in wild fits of animalistic rage. Although, as young as she was, Sheila was not born bad. Children are not innately bad, but are like a blank tablet, and learn from their experiences in life. This is the Tablet Rasa View believed by 17th century philosopher, John Locke. This view applies to Sheila very accurately. Sheila had nearly no care in her home. She lived in a tenement with her alcoholic father. Her mother had abandoned her on the side of the highway, and left her alone to die. Sheila came to school everyday in dirty, stinking clothes that were the wrong size for her. She looked as if she hadn't bathed in...
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