Police State in SchoolsPosted by on Tuesday, April 17th, 2012
I agree that a child’s temper tantrum can be overwhelming. I’ve got a two year old (who is going to turn three in a few weeks). However, no matter how poorly a child behaves, we (as adults) have to figure out how to manage that child. It is our job as parents, and the same should be said for educators. However, it does not come as a shock to me to hear about a child being handcuffed in school for misbehaving. Evidently, it is not only against school rules to misbehave, it is illegal. Technically, it may not be illegal, but what else do you call it if you are handcuffed and brought to the police station? The girl, a kindergartner, was allegedly posing a safety threat to others during a wild tantrum. Is our society such a police state already that nobody came up with a better solution?
Besides the disturbing fact that we are exposing our kids to the criminal justice system at an early age for normal childhood behavior, there are other things about this story that should bother everyone (including what was left out).
1. The “rules are rules” excuse was used to justify the use of handcuffs on a six-year-old-child. This forget-your-brain-and-adhere-to-policy approach should be abandoned immediately. It doesn’t allow for the officer to use common sense or judgment, but to blindly follow a policy that was obviously not written with small children in mind.
“Our policy is that any detainee unreported to our station in a patrol vehicle is to be handcuffed int he back. There is no age discrimination on that rule,” said Milledgeville Chief of Police Dray Swicord.
2. Why isn’t the police department going to follow through with this? If it is justified for them to arrest a child and bring them downtown, why does it not justify her going to court?
They took the child to the police station where she was charged with simple assault and damage to property. Because of her age, she will not have to go to court and will not be sentenced.
In other words, they panicked. They didn’t know how to handle a temper tantrum so they overreacted and now they feel stupid about it so they’re not going to follow through.
3. Why were the police called at all? The article indicates that the officer tried to calm the child down before handcuffing her. But, if that were me, I would probably get pretty fired up about a police officer being there in the first place. Whatever they are told about police, even small children know that they only show up when someone is in big trouble.
4. What occurred at school to upset the child in the first place? Nothing whatsoever is mentioned about it in the article. Behavior like this is usually a symptom of a bigger problem. This behavior, although serious at the time, is most-likely not the main problem for this child. This child needs help, but this school was focused on helping the principal stay safe from the child.
I realize that part of the problem here is that schools often defer their problems to the police departments due to fear of litigation should something go wrong in their attempt to de-escalate a child. However, there has to be a better way.
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