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Keeping children safe

- Practice, Practice, Practice
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As a public school teacher, there is one thing I’m sure of: Educators will do anything to protect students from harm. I’ve also found out how important it is to support this resolution with daily prayer. The Bible promises: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isaiah 41:10). I’m grateful for this assurance that God is present and active in my life and in my students’ lives.

When a 12-year-old Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem for three days, Mary and Joseph, thinking he was in their group, traveled a day’s distance, then returned and searched for their son in the crowded city. When they finally found him, his mother cried: “Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.” He replied: “How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” (see Luke 2:41–49). 

This exchange helps me think about the way we see the children in our lives. Rather than fearfully worrying about them, we can acknowledge their true nature as the children of God, divine Spirit. Even though Jesus fulfilled a unique role, in reality all children are naturally “about their Father’s business,” expressing the qualities that come from God.

The truth is that we all reflect God, divine Mind, Principle, Love. Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Knowing that Soul and its attributes were forever manifested through man, the Master healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, feet to the lame, thus bringing to light the scientific action of the divine Mind on human minds and bodies and giving a better understanding of Soul and salvation” (p. 210). Jesus didn’t attach evil to a person. He proclaimed evil to be “a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44), giving evil no origin, history, or personality. 

One morning, several years ago, an eighth grade student came into my class about a half hour late. He was extremely agitated. Prior to this, he’d been mildly disruptive, but this morning I could see he was really struggling to control his anger.

I begin each day before work by reaching out to God in prayer and reverence, with a receptivity to divine wisdom, and an alertness to the continuous flow of inspiration from the Christ. I pray to see more clearly that God’s law of harmony is always present, and this leaves no place for chaos to enter in. That morning in the classroom, my thought was filled with compassion and love. I knew I could face this possible threat, and fear could be held in check. 

The other students were already settled into their work, so I asked the boy to join his peers. While walking to his station, suddenly this student aggressively took aim to punch another boy, who was seated and quietly working. Instantly I was led to step in between them, and the boy’s fist froze. I felt no fear—only love for this innocent child of God’s creating. We exchanged a look—my intent was to communicate “I know you don’t want to behave this way”—and I asked the student to sit down. As he quieted down, I called our vice principal. A teacher’s aid, who worked next door, was able to peacefully escort the student from the classroom. 

Later it was revealed to me that, only hours before, this student had been released from a juvenile detention facility and been dropped off at home, where his mother had refused to let him inside. This student had missed a few classes, but I had no knowledge that he’d spent time in this facility. I’d only sensed that the anger had to be met and addressed through listening and responding to divine Love.

Even though the temptation may have been to take out his hurt and frustration on others, divine Love stopped that impulse and protected this student from doing something that might harm another student or get him sent back to the detention facility. The situation resolved quietly, and the other students hadn’t noticed the commotion. 

Within a few days, this student returned to complete the course successfully without further incident. He was cooperative and followed the classroom rules. It was as if the event had never happened.

I’ve found that the best way to protect schoolchildren and God’s ideas everywhere is to engage in daily prayer that vehemently rejects aggressive thoughts and actions, and affirms the power of inclusive and unconditional divine Love. We can let divine Love become so much a part of us that it naturally moves us to act in accord with God. We can stop evil in its tracks with hearts and minds filled with God’s love. Because God’s children are innocent, and that innocence has spiritual power, we know that they are not victims or victimizers. This knowledge is truly what keeps children safe. 

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