The Clean Life: Not all children live it

By: C.Q.Wilder, M.Ed

September 3, 2014

I have witnessed children arriving to school dirty and continue to wear the same dirty clothing for a week. I have also seen children without underwear or socks on. This is the reality for some, especially if they live in the inner city where their own home conditions might be dangerous.

As a person who is in education, it’s hard to see this. You wonder when the last time the child had a bath, or when the last time the child brushed their teeth? I reach out to those parents and find out how I can help inform them about resources to support them because they don’t have to live like that. Almost every parent I have had to have that conversation with were very receptive and have been working to get things together.

However, I’m worried about the parents who aren’t saying anything and not understanding the potential dangers of bringing your child to school. I wrote an article about mandated reporting. It’s the requirement to report anything suspicious to authorities if its harmful to the child. A child who comes in dirty to school, especially consecutively, especially in the same clothes, falls under a possible report being filled.

I’m providing this information to encourage daily baths. Wearing clean clothes and having on all undergarments on feels great. All of these things boost self-esteem and also keep the child clean and healthier than not. Some might think this is known behavior or knowledge but in the poorer neighborhoods or housing developments, when your apt has mold, a insect problem, and the walls are leaking, there are other concerns that might take priority.

Now, if your child is coming to school dirty because you can’t afford to wash their clothes, let the school know! Many schools have funds set aside to assist with transportation, provide items like food, cleaning products, and clothing, among many other things. You don’t know if you don’t ask.

I know it may be hard to tell others about your struggles but at the end of the day, it’s about your children. Never feel to proud to say anything because it would be horrible to find out that CPS has been called with a possible neglect charge all because you couldn’t afford soap or to wash clothing.