April 22, 2021, published on

Every day on the bus ride to elementary school, 8-year-old Jae’Sean Tate would clasp his hands, tuck his head down, and pray to God: Please don’t let me get in trouble today. Please let me be good today. 

After arriving, he’d calmly walk into his classroom, find a seat, and think to himself: I’m not going to get in trouble today. I’m going to be good today. 

And then, the anger would swell inside him, threatening to boil over. Teachers would wonder why he’d randomly start disrupting class, distracting fellow students, and throwing tantrums. He’d get in trouble so often he’d have to eat lunch with a school counselor. The principal’s office had a designated chair for him. 

He didn’t want to get in trouble. He wanted to be good. He wanted to be seen for what he was: a loving, hard-working, studious boy. What he wanted most, however, was to not hurt anymore. To not break down. His classmates didn’t know about the sadness that lay underneath his hardened shell. Jae’Sean didn’t want to talk to anyone about where his pain came from.

The third-grader didn’t have the words to explain why he’d moved from his mother’s home in Toledo to Pickerington, Ohio, to live with his father, Jermaine, and stepmother, Jenice. He didn’t know how to describe the day his mother, Cori Key, sent him to stay with his grandmother so that she could go to Toronto with a friend to celebrate her birthday. 

“Don’t go,” Jae’Sean told her that day. (READ FULL STORY HERE).

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