Adults failed me as a kid. I am a journalist today to be a watchdog for children.

From Chalkbeat Detroit comes this personal story by Hannah Dellinger describing her traumas as a child and her commitment, as a journalist, to protecting the vulnerable: 

“My earliest memory is of an adult hurting me in an unspeakable way.

For decades, pieces of the memory would sneak into the forefront of my mind from my subconscious. I spent a lot of time running away from the flashbacks, trying to keep them from becoming a reality. And yet, the abuse bled into almost every aspect of my life.

The sexual abuse I suffered at ages 3 and 4 impacted my childhood, my education, and my development in ways I am only now coming to understand three decades later.

I acted out as a cry for help in school. I had trouble focusing in class. Trauma-induced memory loss made me a poor test-taker. Executive dysfunction caused me to put off assignments. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder meant I was easily overstimulated in crowded settings. I didn’t trust any adults, especially those who held authority over me, like teachers. My self-esteem was shattered, and I had trouble connecting with other kids.

I exhibited all the telltale signs of a child in pain who needed extra support, but no adults heeded the call. Instead, I was punished for behavioral issues. I was made to feel like I was a ‘bad’ kid, which exacerbated the feelings of guilt and shame that stemmed from the abuse. . . . 

No adults ever took the time to ask what was behind my surface-level behavioral issues, like acting out in class or not pushing myself academically, throughout my childhood and adolescence, despite best practices and what research tells us about kids who ‘act up.’

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