“Detention, again, Justin? That’s…” I shuffled my notes on my untidy desk, hunting for the report handed to me not ten minutes earlier by the headmaster’s secretary. When I finally alighted on her perfect script written in neat lines of violet ink, I all but pounced on it, shaking the wisps of loose hair away from my eyes and scanning it quickly. “… Three times this week. Are you going for a record?”
The teenage boy on the other side of my desk shrugged nonchalantly. His lips were tight and his brow was knitted into a frown that never seemed to leave his face, giving away the fact that though his shrug may have appeared not to care, his eyes told a different story.
I hadn’t had the job for long. Fresh out of college, I was still in the phase of my working life when I believed I could help to change the world one mixed-up teenager at a time.
School counsellor. The title sounded so grand to my young ears, the nameplate on the door of my office giving me a high each time I passed it. This was my chance to prove that not all kids who acted out were lost causes. I would put the world to rights one day, and I would start with St. Bartholomew’s High School.
I hadn’t quite admitted to myself yet that my plans for world peace might not happen quite according to the schedule I’d set for myself. It turned out that teenagers were much more complicated than I’d realised. Case in point – Justin Baines. Fourteen years old, with a string of detentions, suspensions and even a couple of police warnings under his belt already. He was the one that kept eluding me, the one they warned you about in college with their “don’t get too involved” speeches and warnings against caring too much. Despite having spent my entire life being told what a great listener I was, somehow every one of those warnings had fallen on deaf ears. He’d got to me. Without even trying, the kid had me awake at night agonising over how to get through to him . . .
Break the Cycle is an anti-bullying anthology of 14 stories by 14 different authors. Each story features a different scenario.
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