DEAR HARRIETTE: The letter signed "Standing Up for a Friend" and your response really hit home. You said, "It's important for people who have been humiliated to have someone who loves them and supports them through it."
How true! Back in the first grade, I was accused of ruining another student's artwork. (Someone had scribbled with crayon on the baskets we were learning to weave.) I didn't do it, but the teacher said I did and wouldn't believe my denials. She threatened to send me back into kindergarten if I didn't tell her the truth, and she told another teacher who saw us talking in the hall that "this little girl was bad and won't admit it."
The next morning, she punished me by making me scribble on a piece of drawing paper with crayons. I cried all morning, and when we broke to go home for lunch, she told me, "This afternoon, you scribble some more."
I cried all the way home and threw myself into my mother's arms. I begged not to go back that afternoon, and she agreed after hearing my story. However, she called the school office and made an appointment with the principal.
The next morning, we were in the principal's office. A little calmer now, I related my story and repeated my denial. My mother didn't say one word until I was through. Then she said, "My daughter doesn't lie to me, and she's got two younger brothers and doesn't do anything like that at home. Why would she do it in school?"
The principal asked us to wait. She was gone a good 25 minutes, then returned and said, "Take your daughter home. It's been taken care of."
Nothing more was ever said -- but Mom loved me enough to go to the wall and support me in this. Incidentally, this was the very early '60s, when adults were usually right and kids were wrong. Mom believed in all her children and stood up for us whenever it counted. -- Grateful Daughter, Chicago
DEAR GRATEFUL DAUGHTER: Thank you for sharing this story. That you remember it in such detail proves how powerful it can be to have someone, especially a parent, stand up for you. Too often, children are not believed when authority figures are involved.
Of course, trust is based on actions. Your mother had evidence of your character outside of the incident in question and was able to tell the principal how you behaved with your siblings.
Your story can serve as inspiration for many who may feel alone and unsupported. It is possible to have a relationship with a parent or other loved one who will believe in you. I highly recommend that everyone develop at least one relationship with a family member or friend who knows you well enough to vouch for your character in times of need.