The Unhappy Weeping Willow Tree ( A story for young girls, 8 to 12 yrs to combat the trend of dissatisfaction with looks, photoshopping, skinny models, and cosmetic surgery

The Unhappy Weeping Willow Tree

A young weeping willow lived on the edge of a riverbank. From her home she could see fields, hedges, a beautiful wood and a mountain.

People and animals passed by her on the riverside track and would notice how her delicate branches dipped and swayed. “How lovely!” they all thought. But the weeping willow was not happy. As she looked about her she was always finding fault with herself and comparing her shape with other trees.

“Oh,” she sighed “I wish I were taller and could reach high into the sky like that Poplar tree over there”, or “How I wish I had a good wide strong trunk like the Oak, I am so skinny and thin.” or “Ah, look at the interesting shape of the branches in the Scots Pine, my branches are so droopy.” And she went on feeling miserable about herself.

One day two girls came by and sat beside her on the riverbank.

“I like it here by the weeping willow,” said one, “You can hide from the world. It’s like a green cave, isn’t it a lovely tree, Sally?”

“Yes,” said the other, “and I can tell you my secret, Mary, which makes me sad. Being beside a weeping willow seems a good place to feel sad.”

“What is your secret?” asked her friend.

The two girls sat beneath the willow tree 4

“ I am worried about how I will look when I grow up, and I’m worried about if the operations I will need will hurt or if they will cost a lot of money.”

“Sally what are you talking about? There’s nothing wrong with you is there? I mean you look fine to me! What operations do you think you will need?”

“Please don’t tell anyone, Mary, promise me! I think my nose is not straight enough and my ears are too big. My auntie has a flat chest and I don’t want to look like her, so I must get something done to make me bigger. And I hate my freckles.”

“Stop, stop!” said Mary. “Everyone is different from everyone else. You shouldn’t want to change yourself and try to be something you are not. That’s not good thinking. Some people do themselves a lot of harm trying to change themselves.  They are never happy with how they are, even when they have changed.”

Sally looked around at the lovely tree they were leaning on. “I wish I were like this tree,” she said. “Then I’d be happy just being me. It’s so lucky just staying put, looking at its reflection in the water. No one teases it about its freckles or its ears or nose. It must be so contented.”

“Oh you’ve been paying attention to those boys have you? You think that what they say matters? Don’t listen to them Sally, they just say anything at all to get attention.”

The girls stood up. Sally stroked the bark of the Willow. Suddenly she felt better. The girls wandered off along the riverbank.

The willow tree gently waved her branches, she felt better too. It made sense to be happy with what she was and to learn to appreciate her finer points instead of envying other trees for what they were. She decided she would be happy to admire others, but not to wish she could look like them, because everyone is made to be different and that’s how it is, and that’s how it should be.

Questions

How did you feel when you heard the story?

Did it remind you of anything in your life?

Why was the weeping willow unhappy?

What did it want to be like?

What was Sally’s secret?

Why did the tree change its ideas about wanting to be different?

 

 

 

 

Bullying in the Workplace. A therapeutic story to help victims of bullying for adults

 This story came to me in meditation.  It is about a time in the 1950s.  The attitudes in it are quite shocking to most of us these days, but bullying certainly does still go on, as we all know.  It is never acceptable, for any reason.  Most people are more broad minded and accepting of those who are not quite like themselves.  See what you think. It is an example of bigotry which can appear in many forms.

Bullying in the Workplace     

Morag was born in Glasgow. When she went to school everyone spoke in the same way, they used the same slang, they understood each other. She went on to college in Scotland and trained to work in the bank.

 

Morag found it hard to get a job in Scotland. She decided she would have to travel south of the border to get work. She found a bank teller’s post in Nottingham. Morag found it quite difficult to make friends there. Everyone spoke differently from her and they did not seem to understand what she was saying. She too found that she had to repeat herself a lot. People looked at her as if she was stupid when the words came out of her mouth. She felt it was hard to believe that she and they came from the same country.

 

She realised that something would have to change if she was to be understood. She started to copy what she heard – the local accent. She did not go as far as calling other people ‘ma dook’ meaning ‘my duck’, the normal friendly way of addressing others in Nottingham. Gradually she found she had tuned in with the locals. She understood them and now with her newly acquired Nottinghamshire accent they understood her. However there was one person whom she could never seem to please or understand. He was the manager of her line manager. Fortunately her line manager was pleasant enough, but Mr Sneyd was not. He took every opportunity to make horrible jibes about the Scots when ever she was in earshot. At the copying machine he would imitate her accent when he spoke to others. He never spoke to Morag but made reference to her in front of her to other people. He was a jokey sort of character, but his jokes were always at someone else’s expense. He was a social climber and endeavoured to impress those above him with his quick wit and self-declared talents.

 

One day Morag decided she had had enough. She had a choice – to leave the job or to face up to the bully. After all she had done nothing to offend him except to be herself. There were four people standing around the copier, Sneyd was among them, holding forth as usual, bragging about his golfing prowess. Morag approached.

‘Ah, here comes the Gorbals; no golf courses in that part of town, I’ll be bound ‘ said Sneyd.

‘Why?’ asked Morag. The other three staff looked embarrassed. Sneyd was surprised. ‘We weren’t addressing you,’ he said.

‘No,’ said Morag ‘You never do, you just talk about me, not to me and I’m at a loss as to understand why.’

‘Well I couldn’t expect a Scot to understand much, could I? `That thick Scottish accent, it’s a wonder you can understand yourself.’

The other staff looked sheepish, one sniggered. There were no laws against workplace bullying in those days. Morag was furious.

 

‘You are nothing more than a classroom bully. Don’t you think it’s time you grew out of it?’ she said. Morag decided at that moment that she wanted nothing more to do with her job in that place. She marched into the manager’s office and told him she was leaving because of Sneyd. She poured out her anger and frustration.

‘Miss Fife, why have you not complained before ? This kind of behaviour will never do.’

 

Morag knew it was an empty platitude as she had seen Sneyd talking to the manager in pally, boastful way about his golf. She guessed they probably discussed her foreign ways on the golf course.

 

I know all this because she was my mother and she told me the story of her first job in England. She told me she went to London where they were more accepting of people with all sorts of different accents, beliefs and ways of life.

 

It wouldn’t be tolerated these days – bullying in the workplace is illegal now. No one should get away with it and if it happens to you, you need to be brave and to report it because if someone is bullying you for some reason the chances are that they are bullying someone else too. Only reporting it and standing up for yourself will put a stop to it. You have to report it to a higher and higher level of management if those lower down are not prepared to deal with it. It must not be tolerated or we will be back to the laws of the jungle where might is right.

The Dangers of Telling Half Truths (story to illustrate a common problem amongst young people today)

The Danger Of Telling Half-Truths.

A story requested by Anne, a teacher, concerned about her students’ dishonesty and lack of responsibility and how it will affect their future lives.

My name is Philip. I have a great deal of experience of telling half-truths. I used to avoid my responsibilities and duties by only saying part of what had happened. In the end, no one believed anything I said. I was not trusted any more, and was thought of as a joke. I wriggled out of things to avoid work, and eventually no one would give me any work. There was no unemployment benefit in those days and I ended up stealing things to stay alive. Finally, I found myself in behind bars. I hated prison, everyone was a liar there. You couldn’t trust a soul. In the outside world people told the truth and I knew what to expect from them. It was just me who was the liar. I thought it was all right to tell only half the story, what I spoke of was true, but by not telling the whole story, I was trying to make people believe something that was not real. That made me a liar, but I would not admit it, even to myself.

I will give you an example. I had three brothers, we all had our duties to do on my father’s farm. It was hard work but as my father said, ‘It puts food on the table. Do you want to eat? Then you have to work.’

We each had certain jobs to do around the farm. Mine was to feed the cows during their morning milking, amongst other things. I had to carry hay or silage to the milking parlour. It was cold, wet and dark in the winter. The best way of doing the job was in the evening before dark, then the feed would be ready for the cows in the morning. If you left it until morning you would be fumbling around in the dark or half light, falling over tools someone else had left around.

Last thing at night Father would ask me. ‘Did you fetch in the hay?’ I always said ‘Yes,’ whether I had not. I might have put the proper load in for the cows, or just a handful , thinking that I would do it next day. Come the morning I would finish the job.

Father hated that, seeing me stumbling around half awake with armfuls of hay, while he was trying to milk the cows.

‘You said you fed them last night. What are you doing now?’

‘I did feed them, but mother called me in for supper and you know how vexed she is when we eat the meal when it’s cold.’

I was full of excuses. I just wanted an easy life.

Father warned me that the cows would go dry if we did not did feed them enough and said that because I was such a liar, he never knew how much fodder they had eaten.

I just thought he was a bad tempered old man and continued with my half-truths and excuses. The cows did go dry, no milk came from two of them. I knew it was my fault. I was giving short rations because I would have to shift a mountain of hay from a distant barn when the supply close to the parlour ran out.

Father exploded. ‘You useless pile of cow dung! You can go and work for someone else. You are no use to me or your mother.’ He banned me from the farm. That’s when my life took a downward spiral. The little work I had soon came to an end because the employer quickly discovered I was not to be trusted, either for the truth, or because of my habit of taking things which were not mine to take. I was soon in prison.

Eventually I did learn that I needed people to trust me if they were going to employ me. The rewards of being trusted and  the satisfaction of doing a good job were far away better than the pleasure of skipping work and getting away with doing as little as possible.

Questions

When do you think this story took place?

Where did Phillip live and work?

Why did he tell only half the story – or ‘half truths’ as he called them.

What was the effect of telling half truths on him?

Why was his father so angry with him?

Does the story remind you of anything in your life?

Is it better to tell the truth and get into a bit of trouble, or to tell half truths and never be trusted as a result?

What is the problem if no one ever trusts you?

How does it feel when you know you are always honest and so does everyone else?

What are the benefits of being trustworthy?

 

 

 

 

NeK Nomination fun or what???

Chris sat with his back against the wall of the supermarket. His lurcher Rusty lay on a dirty folded car blanket. Last night with his mates was a time which would be hard to erase from his mind, confused as it was.  He reached back in thoughts, going over what had happened the previous night.

The weather had been atrocious. The lads were in the pub a little way up the hill from the sea. Chris noticed a message from his mum on his phone with another one below it from his mate, Darrell. He clicked on Darrell; a picture of him grinning drunkenly at him leered out.

‘You’ve been NEK NOMINATED, mate!’ read the text.

Chris showed Shane, who was sitting next to him. Shane’s eyes lit up.

‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ Chris asked.

‘Darrell has named you as the next person who has to drink whatever his mates give him, in one glass.’ said Shane. ‘Are you up for it?’

‘I dunno, I suppose so,’ said Chris, a sinking feeling building in his middle. All his friends’ eyes were on him.  He did not feel like he had much choice.  They were willing him to agree.  Anything for a laugh…and would it prove that he was more of a man than them??

‘Well, we’ll have to see what you can do then!’  All the lads cheered.

Chris nodded; a rope seemed to tighten around his stomach.

The lads ambled over to the bar discussing what cruel mixture they could get Chris to drink, to down all in one go. That was the challenge. Chris heard one shout ‘ barley wine’ and another ‘Jack Daniels’, then ‘gin and pickled egg vinegar’. More shouts followed. Dejectedly he flicked back to the text message from his mother.

‘Come and get Rusty.  The house is flooding. We are going to Grandmas right now. Love you, xx’

The rope tightened around Chris again. This time it’s squeezed his chest.

He saw the pint glass coming towards him on a tray, proudly carried by Shane. This was just not the right time to be getting smashed – if ever there was a right time – which he doubted.

His friends would never believe him if he cried off, if he told them about the flood, even though they could hear the sea crashing away just down the road. They were past the point of discrimination of fact from fiction, of truth from reality.

Chris thought he would just swallow the mix and go for the sake of a quiet life. They cheered as he swallowed. He stood up ‘Right, I’m off!’

Disappointed, they watched him go out into the wind and rain.

‘Gotta  be quick!’ he said out loud,  loping across the street and down the road towards the sound of the sea, down the alley round to the back of his house. The garden was terraced. Rusty was straining at his chain beside the kennel, which was floating in a foot of water.  The dog  was perched on the rockery barking and shivering. The kitchen would have been two feet deep in water and the lounge deeper. Chris couldn’t enter the house, he just had to take the dog and go.

He was beginning to get confused ‘Get Rusty,’ he said to himself. He unhooked the dog from the kennel and picked up Rusty’s blanket. All Chris could think about was to get away from the water. His thoughts were becoming more and more confused as the alcohol began to take effect. His legs would not do what he wanted them to and the road no longer seemed to be flat. It was undulating and coming up to meet his head in an alarming way.  A car horn blasted out loudly.  Someone shouted at him ‘Hell ain’t half full yet!’

Chris found some railings and use them to pull himself up the hill towards the town centre. Rusty stayed close by his side, the chain dragging on the ground behind the two of them. The lights became a much brighter. Chris just needed to rest. He found a corner between plate-glass windows that he could sink down into. He managed to get Rusty’s blanket onto the ground and collapsed onto it. He felt Rusty’s warm body and then nothing.

The next thing he was aware of was a group of lads shouting and laughing. He opened his eyes. One of them was approaching him, his arms outstretched, offering him a sandwich and a can of Coke.

‘Here, mate,’ he said, ‘you look as if you could use something to eat. I’ve just been ‘Nek Nominated’ but I’m not going to waste my time being sick all over the place. I bought this instead to give to someone else.  Seems like a better idea. Here, you have this. I’m staying sober!’

Chris realised he had not eaten for hours and neither had Rusty. ‘Yeah cool. Thanks.’ As he shared the sandwich with his dog. Chris thought about the damage he might have caused to his body by drinking all that alcohol and the hurt that it would have caused his parents if he had been run over.

‘Nek Nomination. It’s only for idiots,’ he decided.

Questions:  (Some ideas to think about)

Where were the boys at the start of the story?

What happened that made Chris feel worried ?

What did Chris think he should prove to his friends?

What does ‘his friends were past the point of discriminating fact from fiction’ mean in the story?

How did Chris feel when he read the text from his mum?

Why were his friends disappointed when he left the pub?

What did the man mean when he shouted ‘Hell ain’t half full yet?’

What did the boy with the sandwich do?  Why?

What did Chris think about Nek Nomination when it was all over?

What would you do if someone challenged you to do something very dangerous or damaging to your body?

If people harm themselves or even die doing things like this, how will they be remembered – as brave or as a fool?

Flood in India, a story for children from 9 to adult, about respect for property

Story by Tessa Hillman re-published  in  Oct 2013. 10 minutes to read aloud.

Educational Stories, Stories for primary school children | Tags: , , , , ,

The Flood

In my village in India we live very close to the sea. We live in fear of tidal waves, hurricanes, cyclones and even extra high tides. If the people in my village could have found somewhere else to live, they would have. But most people are too poor to move away, so they stay and pray that the sea will not take them before their time.

When I was about ten years old, we had a terrible flood. I remember it so clearly. The weather had been bad for several days, raining heavily, turning everything into mud. Then we heard there were storms at sea. The tide was very high the night before it happened. My father said we could not risk staying at home for even one more day. He made us pack our belongings and put them into our handcart. My mother readily agreed to go. She was afraid for our lives,  the lives of her children, especially the new baby, only three months old. She felt he would be her last child and so he was especially precious to her. There were six of us children, four girls and two boys. Two of my sisters were older than I was and the others had come much later, they were twins and were about three years old.

For me it was quite exciting to pack up all our important things. We did not have very much, but my mother made sure we took our little cooking stove and a large bag of rice along with clothing and bedding and tools for working in the fields. We also took our oil lamp, trying very hard not to break the glass. I wrapped my blanket carefully around it to make sure it was safe.

Many other people had the same idea as us; some had already had water in their homes from the previous night’s high tide.

The wind blew and the rain fell and we trudged along the road as soon as it was light enough to see. My father said we must walk at least eight miles to get on to higher ground before the next high tide. This was going to be difficult, but father thought that even if we didn’t manage the eight miles at least we would be further inland. Maybe the land would soak up the sea behind us, so that it would not reach us, even if we were still on the low lying ground.

My elder sisters and I took it in turns to carry the twins. They were very small and could not keep up the pace. Mother carried the baby on her back and helped father to push the cart when he became tired.

After we had been walking about three hours a terrible thing happened, the wheel fell off our cart. People were streaming past us with their children, animals and all their worldly goods. Everybody’s cart was full up to the brim. There was no space for our stuff. Mother began to cry as she looked at her little cooker that she loved so much. Would she have to leave it behind?

Time was pressing on. The day was becoming hot and humid and there was still a long way to go. Mother noticed a signpost at the edge of the road. It indicated the way to the next village.

“This is a good marker,” she said, and she walked over to a rough brick house. It was open and there were signs that the inhabitants had left hurriedly, leaving little of importance behind them. Mother and Father dragged the cart into the house and draped an old sari she found lying in a corner over it to hide the contents.

“With any luck when we return we may find this house again and reclaim what is ours,” she said.

We continued our journey with no food and no water but with our lives intact. We reached the higher ground two hours before the next high tide and storm. The land was devastated. Thousands of houses were washed away and hundreds of lives were lost. Those too old or too ill to make the journey were drowned. Our family was still together, wet, homeless but together. After five days the local people who had fed us with bowls of rice said we must return to our homelands. There was no room for us in their village. The water had subsided, so return we did. It was difficult to recognise the route we had taken. Dead animals lay strewn everywhere and every so often there was a human corpse. I noticed that several of the dead were people who had a leg or a foot missing, they had not been able to walk fast or far enough.

Father found an old wheel abandoned in the road and was hoping to be able to fix it on to the cart, should we ever find it again. My mother suddenly became excited as she saw in the distance the sign near the brick house where our belongings had been left.

Mother and I ran towards the house. There were some people standing round the door looking tired and dirty. Mother approached them cautiously. She spoke to a man leaning in the doorway. She explained how the cart had broken and she had left it in the hut. She wondered if it was still there.

“Ah, Madam, “ replied the tired looking man, “When we returned home all we found was mud, mud, mud. We have not started to clear it away yet. It seems to have half filled our house. Please look for yourself.”

Mother looked inside the hut. To her joy she found the leg of the cooking stove poking out through a piece of filthy slime.

“Yes, yes, “ she exclaimed, “It’s there! May we take it?”

“Indeed, Madam, since it is yours. Please feel free to release it from its tomb.”

“But what about you? You seem to have nothing left in your house. Are you sure you don’t want to keep it? That was the risk we took in leaving it here.”

“Madam, I have very little, and neither, I perceive, do you; but what is yours, is yours. Please take it. The Lord will provide for us, unless it is his will that we also should die.”

With that the man began to scrape away at the mud. Beneath our cart lay a pile of beautiful cooking pots.

 

flood-pic

“And these, madam, are these yours too?”

“No,” said Mother, “I have never seen these, you must keep them and use them for yourself.”

“I will indeed, until their rightful owner returns, I will consider them to be my own.”

He smiled a big smile and his wife looked in wonder at the pots.

On returning to our village we cleared away the mud and resumed our lives. That was ten years ago. I have always remembered that man’s understanding of what is mine is mine, what is yours is yours. It is a good way to look at property, and then one will never be tempted to steal it.

QUESTIONS: Support answers to questions 2 to 7 with evidence from the text.
1. What name would you give this story?

2. Why was the village unsafe?
3. Why did the people remain living there?
4. What were the family’s most important possessions?
5. How do you know the narrator had a positive attitude to life?
6. What help did they receive from the villagers on the higher ground?
7. What was the attitude of the man who owned the house?
8. How did you feel when you heard the story?
9. Did it remind you of anything in your own life?

A story about rights and responsibilities for special needs students at school and college

A Story from Alan about Rights and Responsibilities

Helping on the farm

When I was a lad I was a bit like you. I didn’t want to be reading and writing. I liked to be outdoors.

My mum and dad had seven children, some of us were twins. I had a twin sister.

We lived on a farm. My dad had sheep, pigs and cows. My mum had chickens and ducks.

I loved helping dad on the farm. Dad used to give us jobs to do. I had to feed the pigs, greedy beggars they were! We fed them on Tottenham pudding. It came in big bins. It was the waste food from schools and hotels all boiled up together. I remember finding a teaspoon in it one day. My brothers all had jobs too. Dad said it was their responsibility to help him on the farm. Without their help he could not have done all the work he said.

The girls helped mum with the cooking and cleaning and the chickens. That was their responsibility.

One day my twin sister said she didn’t want to do the chickens. She said they were too noisy. Mum was cross.

“All right, if you don’t want to do the chickens, then you have no right to be eating their eggs.”

“I don’t care!” said my sister.

That day my mother made a lovely big sponge cake with cream and jam. My sister held out her plate for a piece.

“Oh, there’s none for you. You don’t eat eggs. Now do you?”

My sister went red and ran out of the room in tears. That night, just before dark, she said

“Mum I’m just going to put the chickens to bed. Okay?”

Mum smiled. “I think we’ve got some cake left,” she said.

Questions

What responsibilities did the boys in the family have?

What responsibilities did the girls in the family have?

Can you tell us about any responsibilities that you have?

Alan’s mum said his sister had no right to eat eggs if she didn’t help with the chickens,

That was a right that was agreed in the family.  Can you think of any rights like that? 

There are also human rights – like everyone has a right to food, shelter and clean water. Can you think of any more rights that you think everyone should have?

What rights do we have at college?

What responsibilities do we have at college?

Story about sexual exploitation of a young girl ‘Sasha Escapes’ for children of 10 to 17 years

My name is Sasha. I have is a story to tell you. I want to warn you about something that is happening in our country which is having a very bad effect on many young girls, and some boys. It’s happening to girls of all sorts of different backgrounds. My grandparents came from Bangladesh. My parents were brought up in the UK. There was quite a lot of tension in my family as we were growing up. My grandparents had a lot of influence and their plan was that I would marry a Bangladeshi boy. My parents were not so sure about that. I certainly didn’t want to marry someone I had never met. When I was 13 I was taken to Bangladesh by my grandparents. I met a man who was 38. They told me that he would come over to the UK and marry me when I was 16. He seemed like an old man to me. He had teeth missing and he didn’t speak English. I thought it would be terrible being married to him.

When I came back to the UK I told my friends about this old man. I said I would never marry him and I told my parents that. We started to argue. They said that my grandparents only wanted the best for me. I said they just wanted to get their friend’s son a UK passport, which he would have if he married me. I became very annoyed and upset. I needed to find a way of avoiding this marriage.

I had several girlfriends at school. One of them invited me to a sleep over at her house. I think my parents were quite relieved to let me go because we had been arguing so much. My friends had brothers. Sometimes we had parties with just a few people.  We put on some music and danced. It was great fun. I felt as if there was hope for me and my future. The world did not consist of only that man from Bangladesh. After a few weeks my grandparents heard that I had been going out and seeing boys. They were very angry. They imprisoned me in my room. I could not bear it. They said they were going to take me over to Bangladesh and marry me to the man because I didn’t have to be 16 to get married over there.

I escaped from my house. I didn’t know where to go. If I went to my friends house my parents would just bring me home.  I went to the city centre, where the lights were bright.  I felt better there.  I knew a boy called Mark who worked in a club.  I was hoping to see him.  I stood outside the Tiger club and a handsome young man came out.  He had a nice smile.  I thought he might know the boy. He told me he did and that we could go inside and have a drink and wait for Mark.  He asked me all sorts of questions and because I was lonely and unhappy I told him about my problem.  There was no sign of Mark and the young man told me that he would show me a hostel where I could stay so that I didn’t have to go home. I was afraid but I was more afraid of being taken to Bangladesh, so I did go to the hostel.  It was noisy and quite dirty and people disturbed me in the night.  Women were shouting and crying. The next morning when I stepped outside, there was the young  man , Kumar, waiting for me. He asked me how I had got on and offered to buy me some breakfast.  I was so pleased to see him. He seemed to be like an old friend.  I spent the day with him, just walking around the city, seeing the sights and having a nice lunch.  He seemed to be so kind and I needed kindness.  At the end of the day he asked me if I was going back to the hostel.  He read my face.  I really didn’t want to go.

He said he shared a house with some other  young men, and that one of them was away at the moment and I could stay in his room if I wanted to. I stayed. I felt so grown up. I had my own room and I could use the kitchen. There was plenty of food. I cooked meals for Kumar.  He said I was pretty and that I would be wasted on the  Bangladeshi  man.  After a few days he said his friend Rajesh was coming back and that I would have to leave the room. I was upset, where would I go?

He said if I didn’t mind sharing his bed I could stay in his room. He had been so nice to me. I didn’t want to leave and I had nowhere else to go.  That was my first experience of sex.  There was no love in it, it just seemed rather strange and not enjoyable, but not horrible. After a few nights he told me Rajesh wanted to sleep with me.  I was shocked. He laughed. He told me I wasn’t his wife. He said if I wanted to stay  I would have to sleep with Rajesh. I had no choice.  Rajesh was horrible.  He didn’t care about me at all. When he had finished with me he made me sleep on the floor. That was the beginning of a terrible time.  Every day a different man came for me.  I had to stay in the house and cook and do whatever the men wanted.  Some of them were dirty, some were rough and I saw them paying Rajesh.  They never talked to me as a person, they just used me. 

One day when is everyone was out  I escaped through the bathroom window. I had no shoes. They had taken them away to prevent me from trying to escape.  I had decided to go home. I thought that if my parents loved me they would see how I had suffered and they would leave me alone and not make me marry. I was right. They were very upset and said that my grandparents were wrong and they would never let them take me away.  I had a lucky escape really, although it was a terrible experience. Fortunately, I didn’t become pregnant and didn’t pick up a dreadful disease. The men didn’t beat me up and they didn’t come looking for me.  I went back to school to finish my education and now I have joined a charity which helps girls to get out of situations of the sort that I was in.

Sexual exploitation of girls and sometimes boys is a cruel and wicked thing and we should work hard to prevent it from happening.

Questions

Why did Sasha want to leave home?

What is ‘forced marriage’? It is illegal in the UK.  Girls can get help. Ask your teacher or social worker about this.

Why did Sasha want to trust Kumar?

What did Kumar do to get Sasha to trust him?

What did Kumar want from Sasha?

Have you heard about this sort of thing before?  What else could have happened to Sasha?

Could she have gone to the police?

Who could have helped Sasha?

Wen Wants a Laptop – story about ‘Fairness’ for children of 11-14 years

A story about ‘Fairness’ for children of 11-14 years, (young teens) requested by ‘hint’ via my comments box. 

This story came from a Lady in the Philippines.

Wen wants a laptop

My story is about two young people, Don and Wen.  Don is a boy of 13 and his sister Wen is 12.  They live in a small block built house in the suburb of a large city in the Philippines.

Their father is a business man.  He works very hard buying and selling foods.  He buys in bulk and sells in smaller amounts to the street traders.  He has a battered van which has many colours on its body.  The bonnet is green, one door is red and another is blue.  This roof and frame of the van are yellow, which is the colour of the original vehicle.  Over the years parts have been damaged and replaced so that now it is multicoloured.  The traders know the children’s dad as Mr Multi, which is not his real name.

When they are not at school they help their father with either delivering food or breaking up the bulk containers and weighing out smaller quantities.  Don loves to help with the deliveries.  He is a strong lad and can lift and carry quite heavy loads.  Wen likes to stay at home and weigh out the food, helping her mother with this important work.

Mr Multi works well into the evenings but he does not let Don come with him after eight at night.

‘You are growing.  You need plenty of rest and sleep.  You can go home now,’ he says.

The family have a good life.  They have each other and do not go hungry.  They have a roof over their heads and a store for their bulk goods.  Their dog Dino is in charge of protecting the store from those who might want to steal the food.  He has big teeth and a fierce growl.

Mr Multi uses a notebook and pen to record his orders and deliveries.  His wife thinks that a computer would be better but he tells her that they can’t afford one, and says he doesn’t make mistakes using the old fashioned method of pen and paper. 

The children learn how to use the computer in school.  They do not have many computers but somehow the children get enough time and instruction to learn how to make files and how to use spread sheets.  For business people spread sheets are very useful for making complicated calculations.  Wen in particular likes using the computer.  She gets to be very good at it so that the teacher asks her to write up reports and to make posters to advertise activities to the rest of the school. 

One day Wen asks her father ‘Dad, I’m really good at the computer you know.  Look at this poster I made, can we buy a laptop now?  Please, please, please!  I think it would help the business.

Wen’s dad says ‘That’s a really good poster you have made, Wen, but you don’t realise how much it would cost me to have a computer.  I would have to get a printer too and an internet  connection.  As you know, we can’t even afford a land line.  I don’t see how we could afford it all.  Anyway I suspect you would spend your time on it instead of helping your mother, then where would we be?’

‘Oh Dad, it’s not fair!  Lots of kids at school have lap tops.  Well, some do.  Surely if they can afford it we can too?’

‘You have no idea what other people spend their money on.  Everyone has to make their own decisions.  Life isn’t ‘fair’ as you put it.  Everyone is different.  Not everyone is lucky enough to have a lovely grandmother and grandfather.  We are lucky and we are very happy to look after them.  We spend our money on what is important to us, if other people make different decisions that is up to them.’

‘Oh Dad, I didn’t mean we shouldn’t look after Grandma and Granddad.  I never thought of that!’

‘Of course you didn’t, Wen, you are still learning about life.  Young people have certain ideas about fairness which can be very useful, like when you are sharing things out with your friends.  But when it comes to the bigger picture life can seem very unfair.  There is no point in getting  upset about it.  Sometimes we can change things and sometimes we just can’t.  How about we weigh out that bag of rice between us now?’

Questions:

What can ‘Fairness’ mean?  Can you think of some different examples?

Does this story remind you of anything in your life?

Explore the idea of fairness within the family. 

Do you think everything could be ‘fair’.  How would that change the world?  Is it likely to happen?  How would you cope with it?

Story about ‘grooming’ on Facebook (and similar sites): ‘What will happen to Edah?’

A story about Internet grooming.

Edah sat in the cold room, shivering and frightened, she wondered how she had got herself into this terrible mess. She was not sure how she would get herself out of it.

She crouched in the corner feeling dreadful inside. How could she have been so stupid? She had been warned about the dangers of Internet dating and she had just laughed; now this.

Edah began to piece together the story which was her life. She had been happy as a young child with her mum and dad and younger brother. When she was 10, her father left and her mother could no longer afford to live in their nice comfortable home. They had to move to a flat on the other side of town. She had to go to a new school. She knew no one. Some schools are very good at making new students feel welcome but this was a large new primary school where everyone seemed to rush around not noticing Edah. She was feeling quite sad, and rather shy after her father left home. She missed him a lot. She used to sit on the second-to-bottom step outside the entrance to the main school building. That way she saw lots of people and she thought that maybe someone would speak to her but they never did. After a year at that school, Edah went on to the local comprehensive. She hoped that she would meet some new friends, but she had got into the habit of hoping people would speak to her. She didn’t think that she should make the first move. What if the person she spoke to didn’t like her? How bad would that be?

Edah was listening to a conversation between some girls in her class. They were gossiping about ‘chatting’ on Facebook. It sounded like good fun. They were talking about having a lot of Facebook friends. Edah thought that would be nice. If she could find friends on Facebook, perhaps she wouldn’t be so lonely.

Edah’s mother had a computer which she allowed the children to use sometimes. She was so tired after work that she only had the energy to watch television in the tiny sitting room. Edah knew how to go online and had learnt how to up-load photographs. She accessed a photo of herself from her mother’s picture folder. That would do. She looked quite grown up, much older than her 12 years.

Edah had asked a girl in school how to join Facebook and the girl had explained what to do.

“I’ll be your first friend if you like. I’ve got 472 friends I am going to try to get 500 before Christmas”, she said.

Edah felt flattered that this girl had offered to be a friend even if only on Facebook. She began to feel quite excited. Maybe life was going to improve. It didn’t matter if you were shy on Facebook. No one would know. Unfortunately Edah’s mother didn’t understand how such networking sites operated. She just said “Oh, that’s nice. Don’t spend too long on it Edah – you must leave time for your homework”.

Nobody told Edah about the dangers of the Internet. Most people are more or less what they say they are. They might pretend to be prettier or cleverer or to have more money than they actually do, just for fun. Mostly they just make funny  or not very funny comments to each other.  But sometimes they pour out their troubles to anyone who will listen….

One-day Edah overheard the girls in school chatting about dating. One of them said she had met a boy on Facebook. He was from her old primary school, but was two years older than she was. She had arranged to meet him and go to the park with him to chat about the old school and things. She told her friends that he was nice and that she would be seeing him again.

Edah felt excited inside, she wondered if she could just ask on Facebook if anyone from her first school was on line. She had the best time in that school.

A reply came. She didn’t recognise the name. It was a girl’s name, Jackie. The girl said she remembered Edah, although Edah did not remember her. The two of them struck up a ‘friendship’. The girl asked Edah all about herself and having no one else to talk to Edah told this girl everything. After about two weeks, the girl suggested Edah and she should get together and have a ‘proper chat’.

They arranged to meet outside the post office in the main street of the area where Edah lived.

Edah told her mum she was going to meet a school friend. That Saturday off she went.

A friendly looking man approached her outside the post office. He said he was Jackie’s dad. He seemed to know all about her. He said Jackie had to look after her little brother so he had come to fetch Edah. Edah believed him. She got into his car and was taken to a cold, empty house in an area she didn’t know. The man told her to wait in a room. He locked the door behind him.

You are not going to hear about the end of this story. Many things might have happened to Edah. Some of them very bad indeed. Maybe she managed to escape.

Questions

Who did Edah think she was going to meet when she went out that Saturday?

Who did the man say he was?

How did he know all about Edah?

Why did she get into the stranger’s car?

Is it any safer to go and meet a girl who is a complete stranger, or a boy you have never met?

We hear about bad people pretending to be both girls and boys.  It is not safe for a child to go alone to meet strangers. 

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to make friends on a site such as Facebook?

What advice do you get from school?

Discuss these points and more about internet safety with your teachers and parents or youth leaders.

If you don’t really understand this story and have no one to discuss it with please read on.

This story started with a girl locked in a room by a man who had pretended to be a girl on the Internet.  He had groomed Edah on Facebook.  That means he deceived her and made her feel safe and liked by a new friend.  Then he pretended to be the father of that so called ‘friend’, Jackie. Jackie actually did not exist.  In that way he tricked Edah into meeting him and going with him in his car.

 Teachers:  Any helpful additions to my questions or remarks here would be welcome.  Thank you.  This story came about because  a very vulnerable special needs student of mine was led to believe that a girl on Facebook, whom he had never met ‘loved him’ and he was planning to meet her.

Story ‘Always in Trouble’ for children 9 to 13

Tale of Janek. A story for a very active boy who likes to challenge others and gets into trouble very often – request from Rita.

 

The Tale of Janek  

‘Always in Trouble’

Janek lived in the frozen north. For eight months of the year the ground beneath his feet was solid, hard and frozen. He had a sister called Sylvie. His mother and father kept the family alive by following the herds of caribou – a kind of deer from which they obtained meat and hide. Janek’s father had a very loud voice. He could shout across the frozen ground. His voice seemed to carry for miles. Janek loved to go out with his father to check on the deer. They usually went on foot, using short flat skis and ski poles.  Janek was the sort of boy who always wanted to try to make things happen. He was never satisfied with things as they were. He liked to imagine what would happen if he did this or that and often those things annoyed his parents. When they went to count the herd, Janek’s father always pulled a little sled which had grass nuts in a sack. With these he could tempt the caribou to come closer so that he could inspect them one by one to check for example if the females were pregnant or are if any were lame or wounded. He had to make hard decisions about weak deer. They were a burden to the herd and had to be culled. He didn’t like to do it, but he would shoot sick deer. He would perhaps skin them taking the hide if it was good enough but he always left the carcass for the wild animals to dispose of. He realised that if the wolves were eating carcasses from the culled deer they would not be killing the healthy young deer.

Janek was fascinated by his father’s gun. He was not allowed to touch it as he had shown himself to be a careless lad who could not be relied upon to take care of valuable equipment. He had borrowed his father’s tools and left them out only to be buried by the next fall of snow and not found again until the spring when they re-appeared rusty and useless. He did not listen carefully to instructions when people were explaining things to him because he always thought he knew how to do things even when he didn’t. Time proved again and again that he had not listened and that he did not know what he was doing. But Janek was not one to learn from his mistakes.

One day Janek’s friend came to stay for the weekend. Janek wanted to impress the lad. His father had gone off to deal with some problem in the village. Janek decided he would show his friend how good he was with a gun. Now Janek had never actually used the gun. He had watched his father use it and he thought it would be very easy to shoot down some tin cans that he set up on a low wall outside the family home.

He got his friend to line the cans up in a row and to stand back.

“Bet I can knock them all down,” said he.

Janek eyed along the sight of the gun and pulled the trigger. The gun went off with an almighty crack. It jolted back against his shoulder and hit him very hard on the top of his arm. The pain was terrible. Janek dropped the gun on the ground. He couldn’t hold it any longer. His arm was hanging down at a strange angle.

“I’ll get your mother!” shouted his friend disappearing out of sight. Janek felt faint. The pain was terrific. He managed to walk towards the house a little way then his legs crumpled beneath him.  He fell to the ground.

Janek’s mother came rushing out of the house. “Whatever have you done this time?” she cried in a voice both worried and exasperated. “Oh, you’ve dislocated your shoulder, how did you do that?”  But Janek didn’t speak. He didn’t want to tell his mother about this latest escapade. Firing the gun was strictly forbidden to him.

His mother used the radio to speak to the flying doctor. Three painful hours later a helicopter landed in Janek’s field. The doctor asked Janek how he had dislocated his shoulder. “I fell on it,” Janek lied. The doctor gave his shoulder bone a sudden painful push. Janek felt the joint click back into place. The doctor disappeared very quickly as once again the skies were leaden with heavy snow. That night the snow fell again. Janek’s father was unable to find his gun. The boy was too scared to tell him what had happened to it. For weeks the gun was missing, hidden beneath the snow. Its well oiled parts had become dull and rusty. Sick animals limped along with the herd. The Wolves took three young caribou that spring. The gun was never the same again. Janek’s father gradually pieced together the story and felt angry, ashamed that his son was a liar.

Janek’s family went to live in the nearby town. His father was so disheartened by the bad behaviour of his son, whom he could not trust to tell him the truth or to be safe or careful with anything. His father went off for several months in the year taking Janek’s sister Sylvie with him instead of his son. He could trust Sylvie. He said that she wouldn’t do stupid things and get herself and other people into trouble.

Janek felt ashamed of himself. It seemed to him that he had two voices speaking to him and he had always listened to the one which suggested he that he did stupid things. Gradually as he got older Janek started to pay attention to his other voice – the more sensible one which knew what the right thing to do was. As he grew older he did not hear his father’s angry voice shouting at him from a great distance because there was no longer any need for it.  His father had noticed that Janek’s behaviour was better.

Janek had started to listen to his own voice of reason and felt much happier in himself as a result. He did know how to behave well after all. He could make the right decisions. He wasn’t stupid. He could be trusted.

Questions

Did the story remind you of anything in your life? What?

What was the result of Janek showing off to his friend?

Can you think of a time when you did things without thinking about what damage you might cause?

Do you sometimes feel as if you have a sensible voice and a stupid voice both telling you what to do, inside your head?  Which voice do you listen to? 

How would you advise your friend who kept getting into trouble?