School Goes Way Too Far in Punishing Depressed Teen

Jacqueline Burt Cote

sad teen girlI am starting to get really annoyed by school administrators overstepping their bounds. First you had the teens who got expelled for "sexting" (expelled?!), then there was the criminal investigation into a yearbook pic featuring two kids in the background who might have been making their way to third base, maybe. Now we have the story of Hayley Etheridge, a 16-year-old Brit whose headmaster banned her from the prom because of her poor attendance -- which was caused by a completely legit, medically diagnosed case of anxiety and depression over her stepfather's struggle with cancer. Now that's what I call a juvenile delinquent!

It would be one thing, maybe, if Etheridge was also failing her classes, but she managed to keep her grade point average up in spite of her many absences (and mood disorder).

Plus, her parents let the school know what was going on at home from the very beginning, so it's not like the girl skipped a few times too many and then whipped out the cancer card to "get out of jail free."

Still, her school won't budge, insisting that even though her stepdad became ill and started treatment last summer, he didn't almost die until December, so any of Etheridge's absences during the fall couldn't possibly be due to his illness (yeah, cause it's not incredibly upsetting to watch a loved one go through chemo or anything).

I just can't understand where schools get off making judgment calls like these. Again, they'd have a case if she were flunking out, or even if she didn't provide a doctor's note, but she's a good student with a valid medical excuse. Who is this headmaster to say, "Well, she couldn't have been that depressed" when a physician told him she was?

It worries me that so many of the people in charge of our kids' education these days seem completely devoid of compassion and common sense. Get ready for a generation of serious rebels!

Do you think Hayley Etheridge's school was too hard on her?

Image via John Brawley/Flickr

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