Monday, April 25, 2005

Outrage

This enraged me beyond words.

As I went around this weekend telling everyone I knew from New York City to Los Angeles about this incident, I got mixed reactions.

"Well what did you expect them to do?" someone asked me.
"I'm sure it was just to protect the little girl from herself." Someone else told me.

Maybe I'm oversensitive about this because I am a parent. Let me find out that handcuffs were put on my child in her school. The school and police department would be facing more than just a lawsuit.

Yes children have tantrums and yes it is perfectly obvious that this child was acting out. We don't know the history of this child. What is happening in her life or in her head but the moment the police were called and came into that school, what was at least a behavior issue was treated like a criminal matter. Most five year olds associate the police and their handcuffs with criminal activity so how was this child supposed to feel like anything less than a criminal being cuffed by the police. It served to make a bad situation work and was a disgusting display of power and force over a child.

Now to bring up the issue that yes no one wants to talk about....Race. Somewhere in the back of my mind I wonder if the outcome would have different if it were a white five year old. If maybe the school would have done something extra before calling the police. Maybe the police would have hesitated in using the cuffs. Maybe the outrage would have been more. I mean am I crazy in my concern that this little girl is being taught at such an early age that white police officers (I know they are white from the videos and pictures of the incident) will treat her like a criminal for expressing herself (because that is what in essence a tantrum is, an extreme, out of control form of expression)?

2 Comments:

Anonymous dr. dave said...

I dunno... the fact that I'm a parent makes me outraged at someone here... this little girl's parents.

I'm sorry, but punching your assistant principal is not a tantrum, and it's not "acting out", I don't care if you are 5. I have a 5 year old daughter, and I can't imagine the level of negligent parenting that must precede this kind of behavior.

Yes - the handcuffs were excessive, but it's pretty clear from her reaction and the conversation this isn't this girl's first experience with law enforcement. I get the impression that whatever this little girl's story is - this incident is the least of it. I wish her the best, whatever her circumstances.

4/27/2005 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watching the tape, what gets to me most is the fact that kid is relatively calm by the time the police come into the room. Putting handcuffs on her on scares her, upsets her, and escalates the tantrum that was pretty much over at that point.

I'm also struck by the use and talk of force throughout the video. The adults are talking about how she's not touching her and that she's not supposed to touch her. Of course both people in the room are touching each other constantly, but the adult isn't "touching" the little girl, ie hitting her back. (Well, I should hope not). I guess they may also mean that she's not constantly restraining her (which again, is good if only because its likely to set the little girl off). But what she is doing is physically controlling her movements. Understandable, especially when the little girl is destroying things, but not always necessary or the best option when she's finally mostly calm, but still doing things she's not supposed to, like climbing on chairs.

And maybe I've just been watching Supernanny too much, but what the adult isn't doing is getting down at the child's level, looking her in the eye, and speaking calmly. I don't think that its a coincidence that the little girl keeps trying to climb onto things that make her tall enough to see eye to eye with the adult that is telling her "no" and that most of the time she is on the chair and table, the little girl seems to trying to look at this adult face to face.

4/27/2005 03:41:00 PM  

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