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It wasn’t the first time Darren got in trouble at school, but this time was definitely the worst.
Starting in middle school, Darren was known as the kid who was always starting fights. He couldn’t really pinpoint why this was; all he knew is that he had a lot of anger and it seemed to come out at the worst times.
But this time, he had gotten into a brawl with some other boys and ended up with a broken hand. The other boys were injured too: black eyes, broken fingers. The principal at his school was exhausted with dealing with Darren’s constant fighting and was threatening to expel him.
If he was, that meant he would have to spend all his time at home. That was the last place he wanted to be.
The last thing Darren wanted was to get expelled. If he was, that meant he would have to spend all his time at home. That was the last place he wanted to be.
Darren’s home life was chaotic. He lived with his mother in a small apartment, and his siblings were always coming and going. He never knew who would staying with them that week, and it was always loud and overcrowded. There was never any space for him to be alone.
But Darren could have coped with all of that if his dad was still around.
His father left the family when Darren was 8 years old. He idolized his dad and blamed his mother for him leaving. He tried to track down his father over the years but was never successful. If Darren thought about it too long, he would get sad. Instead, he channeled his feelings into anger at his mother.
If Darren was expelled, there would be no escape from his dysfunctional home. He tried to explain this to his principal—that he couldn’t handle not having school as an escape, even though he was always getting into fights. As they talked, the principal had an idea: Mercy Home.
His principal explained that Mercy Home would be a place to live where he would be away from the chaos of his home. He could receive support to process the loss of his father, work on his anger and his relationship with his mother, and learn healthier ways to cope with his feelings.
If Darren was expelled, there would be no escape from his dysfunctional home.
Darren wasn’t interested…at first. But the more he thought about it, the more he realized that something in his life had to change. He went back to his principal’s office and asked for more information. Soon after, he moved in.
Darren relished having his own space and own room at Mercy Home. It helped to talk about his feelings with his therapist and the other boys, too. Many of them could relate to his experiences, and he was relieved that he wasn’t alone.
Today, Darren feels like a different person. Though he still gets angry sometimes, instead of fighting, he’s found other ways to channel his feelings. And, best of all, Darren is now being recognized at school for more positive reasons: he was recently elected as treasurer of his student council!
Thank you for helping kids like Darren have a safe place where they can heal and grow. It makes a tremendous difference.
Please note: Because we care deeply about protecting our children’s privacy, the names and certain identifying details in this story have been changed.
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I am really glad to be part of the support for young people in difficult situations.