Is There a Wrong?

The day that I came into Job Corps, there was a group of ten that all came in together. The group was our class, and we would be with these people for the next five weeks. We all got along very well and, having spent all day every day with each other, the group became close. That is, with the exception of two people. One just preferred to keep to himself and remain quiet, the other one exhibited strange behavior.

The strange behavior started out with weird, illogical comments that had nothing to do with anything that we were talking about or doing. He would make strange noises, but we attributed that to him being quirky. He would pace back and forth, but that could have been attributed to stress or being uncomfortable in a situation. We often tried to engage him in conversations and group activity, but he was uncommunicative and unwilling. Then he started following around two of the girls in the group. He had a crush on one of them, but the behavior was more on the stalker side of things than the admirer side of things. These behavior patterns continued for the entirety of his presence at Job Corps.

The two girls that were being “followed” decided that after the five weeks were over, they would see if the behavior and following stopped, since the group would all be heading in their different directions for training in their respective trades. If this behavior didn’t stop after that, they would report his behavior to someone in authority. I kept telling them that they needed to say something sooner. I kept saying that something needed to be said about it, that something needed to be done about it. But they kept insisting on waiting for the five weeks to end.

His strange behavior started to escalate, with overreactions to harmless situations. Then he made a comment that was perceived to be a threat to the life of one of the boys in the group. The behavior escalated to a physical point; he forcefully held himself in a doorway, trying to see if someone was in a room, and pushed someone when he didn’t want them to turn a light off at one in the morning so that they could sleep.

One night, the group had gone to play Bingo and he was hovering around the entrance to the room where we were going to be playing. As we were all being seated, he kept pacing in and out of the room. Then he would stand in the middle of the room and stare at people. When asked if he was going to play, it didn’t even seem to register with him that he was being talked to. He was asked to leave if he wasn’t going to play, but he didn’t respond, still staring. Eventually, he sat down, but he didn’t play. He kept staring. Someone tried to give him some boards to play with, but he still didn’t play. He kept staring. Not just the people from our class were concerned by this event. Everyone else in the room, including the present personnel, was scared by this. After the game of Bingo, the group went out to sit around a picnic table and talk. The boy with the strange behavior was pacing around the table, too close for comfort, still staring. We tried to engage him in the conversation, but he didn’t speak.

The day after the Bingo game, I took an opportunity to tell someone in authority of the behavior. I looked at the situation and made a logical decision. The behavior was escalating in the dorm rooms and out of the dorm rooms. His behavior screamed of danger to the safety of others, particularly the safety of those that I had come to care about. I could not, in good conscience, let things continue to escalate and risk that someone I care about be harmed. It was not ok. Something needed to be done about it. I gave a brief summary and left out names, because I was trying to be considerate to the “plan” that the girls had. I did not foresee that the person in authority would then ask me to bring these girls in to make statements about the situation. I did as I was asked and brought them in.

After we finished making our statements, one of the girls expressed discontentment with me over saying something before they had wanted me to, and she said that she didn’t think she could trust me anymore. I tried to explain to her why I had done so, but she was stuck on being upset with me for disrupting their “plan”. Since then, she’s not been as friendly with me.

What prompted me to write this, for my audience, was a disagreement with one of the boys in the group in which he told me that I was wrong for having done what I did. I tried to talk to him too, but he was not listening and kept telling me that I was wrong. I lost my temper and my voice rose. I wanted him to understand that what I had done had been the right thing. I know that I was in the right, but he kept telling me that I was wrong. I became so angry that I had to walk away before I started crying angry tears. It’s extremely frustrating that something done to protect a loved one was perceived as an attack. Would I have been wrong to go against my conscience and wait for them to say something in their time? I would never have forgiven myself had something even worse happened before then. I don’t understand why they can’t see that it was the right thing to do and that it was done out of love. And it hurts that I may lose friends because of something I did to protect them. My question is, is there a wrong in the situation?

I have looked up and down at the situation, and I cannot find how I messed up or committed a social faux pas. Yes, I understand that it is considered rude to interrupt their plan, but would it really have been acceptable in the situation?



One thought on “Is There a Wrong?

  1. You did just what you needed to do for the way you felt about the situation, so don’t feel that you have done anything wrong.
    How it played out after that has much to do with the way the organizers responded.
    Unfortunately other members of your team felt differently, maybe they felt less spooked by his behaviour.
    The only other way you might have played it is to have had more discussions with the other members of the team before reporting it. Yet that too may have held dangers as delaying might have increased the risk.
    There are times when we make decisions, based on our own perceptions of a situation. They are times when we try to make sure we are doing things for the right reason. You did that according to what you have told us.
    Be calm, you did nothing wrong. One cannot please everyone but when you perceive a danger it is right to warn those in authority. Then if you have mistaken the situation they can explain that to you. In this case they didn’t.
    I feel that you behaved responsibly, rather than leaving the situation for someone else to deal with.
    Be at peace with yourself.

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