Use Once and Destroy

Work has been stepped up a notch in the last week. Last week I did two days of NCI training, which stands for non-violent crisis intervention. Basically it’s where you learn how to (or at least attempt to) diffuse verbal escalation before it becomes an “acting out,” (aka, the kid flips out and tries to kill you). And if it does escalate into an acting out, how to physically restrain and take down the kid without hurting him or her, and while also physically punishing yourself as little as possible. These holds can be pretty dangerous if done incorrectly. Some of them can put a lot of pressure on the kid’s diaphragm and restrict breathing if you’re not careful. People have actually died from these before.

So before my training, I was just a “shadow,” meaning I was primarily there to observe, but not really be involved. But now that I’m trained Im in the mix and expected to be just as present as all of the other staff. Obviously, being an on-call staff, I’m not there nearly as often as the full-time staff, so I don’t have the rapport with the kids that full-time staff do, and they don’t trust me, or really listen to me at all. Well, some of them do, and some of them really like me. One kid, for instance, always calls me House, as in this guy. Which I get at least once a week from someone, somewhere. I used to get that all the time at Central Market from customers. Anyway, this kid started calling me that the first day I worked on this unit, and a kid on another unit actually calls me House too. Which is sort of funny, I guess.

But so far things have been good. Last night was a little scary. One kid flipped out and had to be put into a hold, and another kid on the unit always views another kid being put into a hold as a personal call to action to go defend them, and this second kid (who I was watching at the time) picked up a plastic spoon and tried to break it so he could stab me with it because I wouldn’t let him go defend the other kid (for this reason, no metal silverware is allowed on this unit, clearly). Luckily, our plastic spoons are real cheap and it just bent and wouldn’t break, so I was able to get it away from him and throw it away. But the idea of having to physically restrain this kid if it had come to that sent my heart racing and my nerves jangling. And not only that, but whenever you have to “hold” a kid, there’s a big paperwork process involved and it has to be documented, and every residential facility like this gets audited on this stuff once a year, and so on and so forth. So if you’re gonna do it, you better be sure it’s really crucial to do so. I don’t doubt my ability to actually hold him, I just doubt my ability to make an accurate assessment of whether or not it’s necesssary. Although, I guess usually you just know. For instance, last night, if he had actually broken the spoon and was trying to stab me with it, that would certainly have warranted a hold. But luckily it didn’t.

Last Saturday night, after we had put them all to bed, I spent about an hour, along with a another new employee, just reading through the kids’ case files. Holy god. Some of them are intense. Not just because of the horrendous abuse some of them have been put through, and some of the things they’ve witnessed, but also because of some of the acts of violence the kids themselves have carried out. It’s the stuff of nightmares. Being there feels positive though, and if you can find yourself really, really liking some kid, and finding them very endearing, despite the fact that they try to kill you (the one who tried to stab me last night is one of my favorites, actually), or despite what hideous acts of torture they’ve inflicted on other people and animals in their pasts, I think that’s a good thing. Of course, some kids there make me crazy and I can’t stand them, but that’s another story. I can still feel sympathy for what they’ve suffered.

School is going well too. I got two tests back last week and made a 92 on one of them, and got a 100 on the other! Only three weeks to go in this term. One down, 5 to go.


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