HEAR NOT EVIL

A DEAF STUDENT SOUNDED THE ALARM; A HUSH FELL OVER THE SCHOOL.

Michael, however, is easy to find. Now nearing his 12th birthday, he can be seen every day, trudging off to class, busily engaged in the long, slow process of growing up. He bears no visible scars from his assault. The emotional damage, however, is more difficult to measure.

After six months under the care of a therapist--a period Marci Johnson describes as "horrible" for the whole family--his parents say Michael seems to be his old self. The smiles are no longer forced, he no longer shakes or cries at the thought of going to school and, perhaps most important, he seems to carry no shame.

"I'm very proud of him," Marci says. "He is a stronger child than he used to be; he even warns other kids about the importance of saying no to strangers and telling adults if anyone touches them.

"I'm just sorry he had to get stronger this way.

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