Witnessing Trauma - New Action Plan



Yesterday I was swimming laps at my local parks pool, and a teenage swimming instructor was tasked with walking kids to the end of the diving board and - if they didn't jump - putting them into the water herself. Under the board was another swimming instructor waiting for the child to jump or be dropped into the water, and then another at the edge urging the kids to swim to the side.

One little boy, around 4 years old, was crying and screaming "no," yet was forced to do this anyway. After witnessing this scene for the second time I asked to speak with the pool supervisor, told him that the child was having a panic response, and recommended that (a) the practice be reviewed and (be) the team be given trauma-informed training for youth. Maybe mental health first aid.

The supervisor - a pompous guy around 25 - was visibly irritated by my suggestion yet, unlike times in my past where I bowed to the professional advice of the person in charge, I pressed my point and told him precisely where he could obtain free training for the staff. I also told him that touching a kid when they are screaming "no" is totally uncool as it sets a horrible precedent for that victim as well as the children who are witnesses.

I guess maybe I'm getting old and cranky. But, know what? I just don't care.

Erica KitzmanComment