Six-year-old Jimmy is having trouble in school. As a first grader, he already has a reputation among the teachers as a "bad kid." He spends most of his school day sitting in the corner or the principal's office. With 30 other children in his class, the teacher has little time for Jimmy. He isn't learning anything in the classroom, and he has trouble making friends.

We all have memories of the "bad kid" in our class - the child who was always in trouble and often alone. We tend to blame this kind of behavior on a lack of discipline or a bad home. We say the child was spoiled, abused, or "just trying to get attention." But these labels are often misguided. Many of these children suffer from serious emotional problems that are not the fault of their caregivers or themselves.

Myths about children's behavior make it easy to play the "blame game" instead of trying to help children like Jimmy. Often, in making assumptions, we "write off" some children. However, with understanding, attention and appropriate mental health services, many children can succeed - they can have friends, join in activities and grow up to lead productive lives. To help children with emotional problems realize their potential, we must first learn the facts about the "bad kid."

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