A special needs child in Georgia was placed in handcuffs at his elementary school after he began to act out, and now a community is angry over what it sees as discipline going overboard.
The child’s mother, LaKaisha Reid, was outraged that her 6-year-old son was disciplined in what she considered to be an inappropriate manner. It was her husband who was called by a school official at Pine Ridge Elementary and asked to come to the campus, writes Tracy Bloom of KTLA-TV.
“We go into the school, a gentleman takes us back, I hear my son yelling. He’s screaming,” Reid said.
When they connected to their son, Patrick, they saw bruises on his wrists as a result of being handcuffed.
“It hurts when I touch it right there,” Patrick told the TV station, WXIA in Atlanta.
Since her child is a special needs student, Reid was astonished that her son, who was running into walls, banging his head on the table, and placing his own health at risk, was restrained by a school resource officer who said that he felt he was using the handcuffs to protect Patrick. Reid said that she was sharing the story hoping to encourage schools to train teachers how to handle situations like this one.
Jeremy Campbell of WXIA said that the Stone Mountain school in the Dekalb County School District near Atlanta, Georgia, released a statement concerning the event. The decision, said school officials, was made because the child was acting in a disruptive manner and ran out of school onto a busy, public street along with three of the school’s staff members who were attempting to corral him. Once he was secured, he was put in a room with the school resource officer, a special education teacher, and the school counselor. The officials say that for an hour the student scratched, kicked, and hit school workers and exhibited behavior that was self-destructive. When the school system was asked by a reporter whether they would have handled the situation in the same way in hind sight, the reply was that the school has protocols, but every event is unique.
Still, Reid said that she was trained to handle disruptive special needs kids and did not agree with the decision to use handcuffs on her child, reports Tom Boggioni writing for Raw Story.
“They need to have police officers that are trained for special needs kids or for any kids that are that age. That’s pretty young for handcuffs. Anything can happen with those handcuffs on him,” she said.
When asked if there was an appropriate situation when handcuffs might be used on children, Reid replied, “Yeah, if they were robbing a bank.”
And, in Gainesville, Georgia, an 11-year-old boy was handcuffed after a school resource officer said the fifth grader kicked him during a tantrum, according to WSB-TV. The boy’s father, a Forsyth County man, wants some answers as to why his son, who has autism disorder, was treated in this manner. Hunt Archbold of Patch, says that the Gainesville Police Department verified that the officer was following procedure. But the boy’s dad said:
“My biggest concern is the excessive use of force on an 11-year-old, especially an 11-year-old who it’s been determined has special needs.”