My worst nightmare

January 21, 2005

Early in my career, I was teaching in a residential support environment for people with rehabilitation and special needs.

One day, a young woman asked if I could teach her to read and write. I joked that she hadn't learnt to read and write because she'd maybe bunked off school. Calmly, she replied: "No, I didn't learn because they only found me when I was 19." I asked her to explain. She told me she had been locked in one room for 19 years by her father. It was only when he came back from the pub drunk one night and shot her in the head that neighbours called the police and she was discovered.

This was one of the worst moments in my career as it evoked so many questions about society, teaching, life and humanity.

Melanie Hani is programme leader, animation and design, Sunderland University.

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