Amber and Michael TilleyA Texas school has recently come under fire for an incident in which two school officials forcibly bathed a third grade boy at school. A counselor reportedly told him he "smelled badly, was dirty, and had bad hygiene," and then marched him to the school nurse's office where they took it into their own hands to remedy the problem.
According to NBCDFW, his parents say the 8-year-old was forced to strip naked, then they "began violently washing his body." His parents, Amber and Michael Tilley, are suing, and while I hope the school officials are punished for what was clearly wrong behavior, it's the boy at the center of it all for whom my heart breaks in so many ways.
First, it's tragic that he was ever in such a situation that his body odor would be called into question. I have an 8-year-old boy, and let me tell you, they get smelly fast, and they have no clue. That's why his father and I insist that he bathes regularly, even if he balks. It's our job as parents to make sure he learns good hygiene, and if you're not getting close enough to your kid to know if he's practicing it or not, that's a problem in and of itself. So the fact that this boy was going to school in a manner that clearly was offensive is incredibly sad, and you have to wonder about his home environment, even if they claim he had no problem.
Then, of course, there's the trauma he surely endured from being not only forced to stand naked in front of school officials, but from being told he stinks. The situation could have been handled in so many other, better ways. As it was, the parents reportedly were never notified that there was a problem. Michael Tilley told the station:
The first thing I said was, "You ought to try to call us." And they said, "We were trying to avoid him being embarrassed." And I said, "You all did a real good job of helping that process along."
The humiliation he must have felt is unimaginable. His parents say it's affected the boy greatly, and I can't imagine that it wouldn't. Amber Tilley said: "He just kept on and on, wanting to take baths. You know, he just felt so disgusting."
The case is now in the court's hands, where they'll decide if the family is awarded any money. I'm not sure any amount is worth dragging this trauma out for the boy, which a court case surely does. I truly hope he's able to get the help he needs to deal with what's happened.
Can you imagine any case in which a school should forcibly bathe a child?
Image via NBCDFW