I woke up yesterday morning to a pretty annoying story on the local news. A special needs child was handcuffed, shackled and placed in a police cruiser. The school states that the 5 year old became violent, was trying to stab himself with a pencil at one point and was knocking desks over in the classroom. The school’s first and only response was to call the police, when they arrived they handcuffed the boy.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?
The first point I would like to make is that this school obviously handled this in the worst way possible. The child is special needs and prone to violent outburst, there should be an IEP in place that provides him with a behavioral interventionist as well as a para-educator assigned to him. The para-educator should be trained to handle outbursts and the parents should have full understanding of the plans. In no way is it okay to say, “I was afraid of being sued so I didn’t stop him and just waited for the police to show up.” The kid is 5! That pencil could have been taken out of his hand, he could have been safely picked up and brought to another room. His issues should have been addressed way before it ever came to needing the police involved. Every school should have the plan in place that if a child becomes violent they are removed from the classroom and given a quiet and safe space to calm down.
The second point, if a police officer is called it should only be to remove the child from the classroom, to take him to that safe and quiet room. I don’t know a single adult who is unable to restrain/ pick up a 5 year old. If the officer is afraid of a violent child getting in a few kicks, he should never be allowed to deal with violent adults. Why is the first thought, “He needs to be handcuffed”?
There are a lot of comments and opinions about this on the local news Facebook page. They range from –Send the child to a special school. It must be the parent’s fault. This kid doesn’t belong in normal classes.- to –How can the school be so irresponsible?-
The problem is, a lot of people don’t understand how public schools are supposed to handle children with special needs. You can’t send them all to one school and put them out of your mind. They have just as much right to be in a mainstream public school as any child does. It is up to the school to ensure their success and safety. It is the school that is failing the child if the child isn’t taken care of. I agree though, it is important for parents to be very involved. It’s important for the parents to stand up to the school and help them realize what is in the best interest for their child as well as the other children.
I can’t imagine what I would do if Aurora was ever handcuffed in school. I hope that never happens, I hope more people realize the difficulties that come along with special needs children. Every single situation requires a very calculated and precise reaction. Teachers should be trained how to react, IAs and Para-educators should be trained how to react, even the SRO needs to know the proper way to respond to children with special needs. What if they shackled this child and he had a seizure? Who is responsible for the harm done then?
THEY DIDN’T EVEN CONTACT THE MOTHER! They had time to wait for the police to arrive, they had time to watch the child be shackled and taken away but they didn’t have time to contact the mother until after all of this had happened.
There is no excuse for the school not being prepared to handle this properly.