Helping compose victim apology letter

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by CAmom, Aug 16, 2007.

  1. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Now, two days before my son is released from his group home, he's been asked to compose an apology letter to the victim of the assault he and his three "friends" comitted.

    They are expecting to read that he's taken responsibility for his actions, feels remorse, etc., and he has and does, but he has always had trouble with written expression, and his first two attempts to compose this letter ":censored2:" (as his program coordinator put it...).

    His program coordinator asked me to help him do this during his pass this weekend.

    This letter is important, and, while I don't want to put words in his mouth, I'd like to help him as much as possible to compose a well-written letter. Any thoughts on resources?

    PS This letter will not actually be sent to the victim...
  2. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    If this won't be shared with the victim then I think it's wrong for you to help. Absolutely wrong. This should come from your son's head and heart and to heck with his grammar and punctuation.

    I would contribute as little as possible. Let him write it in full. Offer minimal help. I am shaking my head that they would ask you to participate in something that is solely his. Make sure that he covers the areas but don't offer words. Rob had a terrible time with written language so I would be his secretary - he would talk and I would write. I kept him on track but that was it.

  3. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    I'm with Suz. What good does it do for you to help him write the letter besides again teach him that his parents will do the work for him? He could always dictate it and then write out the words little by little (mind you, not you, HE).
  4. hearthope

    hearthope New Member

    I agree with Suz and MB, he did this. If he feels remorse for his actions he needs to write what he feels. No, it won't be comfortable for him but he needs to do it himself.

    Thinking of you with his release so soon! stay strong!

  5. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    The only help I would be willing to give is to type out his exact words as he spoke them, with them also being recorded. Helping him to form the thoughts isn't right, and I can't figure why they would ask you to do that.
  6. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    It might help him to do a draft pretending YOU are the victim
    and he is helping the perpertrator adequately express remorse for
    the intrusion in your life. Then...if that puts the emotion into
    proper perspective, he could write the letter recognizing the
    true feelings. Just a thought. DDD
  7. KFld

    KFld New Member

    I would let him write it, then I would proof it and help him correct the spelling and punctuations. These need to be his words, but you can help him spell them correctly.
  8. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    I'm surprised that they would ask you to do this too! It seems like it defeats the purpose if you "help". How would they know how much of it was really his own thoughts and feelings and how much was you "helping"! What good does that do?

    Since this isn't really going to go to the victim, I'm sure they're more interested in what he's thinking than they are the grammar, sentence structure and spelling. The most, the very MOST I would do to "help", is maybe to let him talk and you roughly transcribe what he has said. They give HIM what you've written down and let him organize it into what he wants it to say. If he's old enough to be getting out of school, he should be capable of doing this.
  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    I can understand the problem if he has a problem with written expression. My oldest has a Learning Disability (LD) in written expression. This would be a nightmare even if he had true remorse and could verbally express it.

    Writing it would be extremely difficult for him.

    Could you maybe have him tell you his thoughts on the matter and how he feels about it and help show him how to put those thoughts into letter form? Maybe have him dictate it onto the computer?
  10. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member

    I think I would spend some time trying to figure out just what the victim feels. What impact it has had in their life and the lives of people around them. That is the point, I believe. For difficult child to actually understand what it feels like to be a victim.
  11. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Suz, Meow, HH,

    The help I am to give him is only meant to be as a "mentor" to make sure the letter doesn't end up a couple of paragraphs consisting of "I'm sorry, please forgive me, have a nice life." This is my son's writing "style." However, when he speaks about the crime and his feelings, he is able to dig deeply.

    I'm interested in making sure that he gets these feelings expressed and covers the issues that they seem to expect.

    I agree with you all that this needs to be about his feelings, not mine.
  12. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Witz, they aren't asking me to form his thoughts, but rather to be sure that he doesn't write a quick couple of paragraphs as he's done his first try.

    I'll be really only making sure he stops to consider all aspects (once I know what they are...) and takes his time to formulate his thoughts which I will then transcribe for him.

    He's horrible at written expression and always has been, and as part of his IEP all through school, I've regularly done this for/with him.
  13. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    DDD, that's a great idea. Thank you. Although he understands on an intellectual level that the victim is always blameless, I think he had, at least in the past, a hard time accepting the concept completely as the boy involved was trying to make a drug deal so was also engaged in illegal activity and then lied about it later. This aspect of the crime has been heavily discussed in therapy.

    In any event, I think your suggestion is great.
  14. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Donna and Janet, that's the problem. This letter is a meant to be a final step in the part of the program that deals with the crime, i.e., victims' rights, etc.

    As far as his feelings, they're in the right place. If they were not, and the psychologist who manages this part of the program feels that they're simply parotting and haven't internalized what they've learned through therapy, he will not "pass" them from the program.

    So now, it's just a matter of helping him get those feelings down on paper in a thoughtful, organized fashion.

    Janet, that was exactly my plan and, really, this is how I've helped him throughout his school career, and it was actually written into his IEP. My son has a verbal IQ in the genius range but writes like a first-grader. This is what they've asked me to help him with.
  15. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Busy, thanks. That will help. In fact, at around 12 years old, he was on a street a couple of blocks from our house, alone, (both things we had warned him against...) and was hit in the face by a boy who then stole his gas-powered scooter. For a long time, he was very fearful of being out and about anywhere but our street.

    I think I might remind him of this when he begins to compose the letter...
  16. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    CAmom...we had to do many accommodation's for my son all through school with the writing assignments. He would read things into a tape recorder to get them into a semi literate format and then listen to them back and do it all over again sometimes. Sometimes he would tell me...Ok mom...I want to say that blah blah can I make it sound right?
  17. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    Start with planning the letter. Have him make a list or make a list of his thoughts for him of reasons he is sorry---at least three. They do not havem to be in order. Then have him brain storm about each reason. Write those off to the side. Finally have him write about impact on victim and what he would like to do to help them. Make lots of lists first. Then use different colored highlighters to highlight "like" ideas. Then, have him put the ideas he was written into paragraphs.
  18. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: CAmom</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Suz, Meow, HH,

    The help I am to give him is only meant to be as a "mentor" to make sure the letter doesn't end up a couple of paragraphs consisting of "I'm sorry, please forgive me, have a nice life." This is my son's writing "style." </div></div>

    That sounds just like M. That used to make me just crazy! I knew he was capable of more if it was something that interested him and he wasn't bent on getting on someone's nerves! I always used to have to read his stuff back to him and say "because..." or "and..." to get him to write a thought rather than a statement.


    Try the tape recorder, when he's talking, maybe.
  19. SunnyFlorida

    SunnyFlorida Active Member

    Coming in late on this.

    Written expression is hard for many kids.

    What about assisting with the organization of the letter ie

    opening statement
    how the victim must have felt
    why it was wrong
    How his crime has affected the victim, society
    an additional humble apology