UNITED STATES—Last week I heard stunning news that left me slightly numb. A police officer placed a child (who was 9) in cuffs. It wasn’t only the fact that the officer placed this child in cuffs, it’s the fact that the cuffs where placed near his biceps, a place that created extreme discomfort for the child, evident for anyone who has seen the video. Many are in uproar because the child is disabled, so arguments have arisen that officers should be trained to deal with such situations.
And I would absolutely agree with that factoid. With all of the attention police officers are getting nowadays for fatally shooting unarmed people, it’s another red flag to many Americans that all officers are bad. That’s not the case because there are good officers out there, but when you see the bad outshine the good, what can you do?
According to reports, the child was acting up in class, which prompted authorities to intervene. This concerns me slightly, as those who teach mentally challenged children are trained to a degree to handle such situations, unless this was an incident where someone who wasn’t capable of treating the child with care to calm him down was readily accessible. If that is the case this is a major problem. Second, before any authority figure was called, the parents of the child should have been IMMEDIATELY contacted and alerted of the situation. No one knows their child better than a parent. Why a parent wasn’t alerted is a big flaw on the school’s behalf.
The ACLU is already planning to sue the Kent County Sheriff’s Department for the actions taken. I’m still trying to wrap the notion of why those cuffs where placed on the kid’s biceps of all places. Seeing the video is disturbing, but having to hear the child agonize in pain is just as worse. The child might be traumatized for life because of this very incident, fearing police officers and not trusting them because of what has transpired to him.
I honestly believe other approaches could have been taken to stabilize the child. Perhaps conversing in a reasonable tone about the issue in hand, some sort of attempt to get the child to slightly calm down. I mean if this reserve police officer, as he has been noted to be, would cuff a 9-year-old, what is to say the same thing won’t happen to a 3 or 4-year-old. Trust me; I understand kids can be absolutely unruly.
My niece is a challenge and she is only three. I’ve been in situations where she has screamed at me, tossed a fight in a public place, scratched my face and even took a bite out of my arm with her teeth. Does that mean I place cuffs on the child to restrain them? Absolutely not, there has to be another way. Children are indeed a lot brighter than we’d like to give credit for. A lot of the time acting out is a way of garnering attention. While it might not be the best choice of actions, getting to the root of the issue helps instead of ostracizing the child.
I will admit is a bit shocking to discover that this incident actually occurred in November 2014, yet is just seeing the light of day in August 2015, that close to a year after the incident originally happened. It feels like someone was hoping to keep things under wraps, but when something hits the media, its spreads like a firestorm and before you know it, nothing can stop the impact and perception that the public will take based on what they are ‘seeing’ and being ‘told.’
I’m seriously hoping our country has not gotten to the point where an officer feels he or she has to HANDCUFF a child to obtain some sort of order. An adult is one thing, but a child, really, was that absolutely necessary?