Time for another reading of that children's literature standby, If You Give A School A Cop.
If you give a school a cop, you create criminals. Cops are trained to deal with criminals, not elementary school students. They can receive additional training before accepting the position of "School Resource Officer," but that additional training seldom thwarts ingrained instincts.
But sometimes, something magical happens, and that "kids should be treated like criminals" training carries over to the streets, as it did in Portland, Oregon.
Three girls were involved in a fight that stemmed from
a drug deal gone bad someone tattling on someone else for drawing on their desk. This fight took place off-campus at the local Boys & Girls Club.
Feeling that it's never too early to teach kids that violence is never the answer, a Portland police officer
immediately broke up the fight and contacted the parents arrested one of the nine year-old participants six days later.
Here's what happened shortly after the fight:
Chris Partlow told 'Snoop' to take the other girl out.
Both girls apologized to each other. Staff members found no obvious injuries on any of the girls, they told police.
The 9-year-old was sent home and suspended from the club for one week.
Problem solved, or if not solved, then at least addressed. But then a parent got involved and claimed that this girl had shoved her kid up against the wall and injured her. Despite there being no physical evidence to back up this claim, the police responded with all the alacrity missing from the scene six days earlier
They cuffed her, brought her to the station, took her mugshot and fingerprints, and justified it all because this nine year-old appeared to be nervous and her story was "inconsistent." On one hand, it could be that she was trying to cover up her
ruthless beating of another student
participation in a second-grade fight, the sort of thing every
adult tells kids not
to get into. Or, she may have been completely truthful, but was unable to maintain an icy, but honest exterior. Why? Radley Balko answers this unasked question over and over and over again with the same answer
BECAUSE SHE WAS NINE.
Now, with the backlash hitting, the DA has dropped charges and the parents are filing a complaint. The police, however, have performed a quick investigation and found the participating officers did nothing wrong
A Kansas City "resource officer" apparently viewed this story as a challenge, rather than a cautionary anecdote
. (via Reason
A Kansas City second grader said his school treated him like a criminal Wednesday by placing him in handcuffs simply because he was misbehaving.
"Some of the kids were messing with me," second grader Kalyb Primm Wiley said of what started the incident.
He said after his classmates teased and taunted him, he started screaming but never got physical with other students or teachers. And when the teacher couldn't calm him down, he said a school security officer took him to the principal's office like a criminal.
"We were halfway down the hall, he put handcuffs on and twisted my wrists a little," Kalyb said.
When his father showed up at the school's front office, Kalyb was still in handcuffs.
Kalyb is seven. Do they even make handcuffs that can secure a seven year-old's wrists? And if they do, why?
Speculation on Twitter
suggests they might be custom made.
All joking aside... what the hell, KCPD? This behavior used to be addressed by teachers, administrators and parents -- not by overgrown bullies wearing uniforms and treating all misbehavior as something requiring tools of restraint normally only applied to criminals.
A district spokesperson sided with authority (as usual) and claimed nothing here violated school policy. Handcuffs make us safer, said the spokesperson in not exactly those words, even if our policies and resource officers make us collectively stupider and more brutal.
These may be outlying events but they're far from rare
- A Delaware State Trooper felt he needed to "investigate" the theft of $1
, possibly involving a third-grader and a fifth-grader. He interrogated both, turning the older kid against the younger one until obtaining a confession.
- Seven students were arrested
for a water balloon fight.
- A five year-old with ADHD had his hands and feet zip tied
by a school resource officer when he wouldn't calm down. The child was charged with "battery of an officer."
If they're not making child-sized handcuffs yet, then it only proves that those involved in the law enforcement accessory field are sleeping on a growing market. Administrators who hand the reins of enforcement over to men and women used to dealing with hardened criminals and actual danger are going to find that it's incredibly hard for these "resource officers" to dial back their reactions. But as long as "policy" is followed, who cares what happens to kids who misbehave?