Friday, October 12, 2012

Cuffing and stuffing a 10-year-old

A ten-year-old boy was disruptive in class. No news there. But this young man attended elementary school in a suburban Houston school district.

Of course there are various accounts as to what happened in that classroom. The boy's great-grandmother said he had thrown a plastic container. Being as great-grandma was not in the classroom at the time, we can only assume that that's what he told her he did.

School officials paint a different picture. According to district officials the classroom was left in a shambles.

Instead of being sent to the principal's office, suspended or placed in detention, the child was arrested for assault of a public servant, handcuffed and taken to the Harris County Juvenile Detention Center.

Let that soak in for a little bit.

A ten-year-old child was placed in handcuffs and booked into a detention facility. A ten-year-old was charged with a felony offense.

What is wrong with these people?

Yes, he created a disturbance. Yes, I'm sure it was more than just a plastic container. No, I'm not condoning his actions. But arresting and cuffing a ten-year-old?

It allows the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District to wash its hands of the child. Now it's in the hands of authorities in the juvenile (in)justice system. We have moved from trying to figure out whether the child has a problem to locking him up in jail.

We have moved beyond providing a basic education in math, reading and science to providing an education in the inner workings of our criminal (in)justice system. He is learning what it means to be an inmate. What it means to be cuffed and stuffed. What it means to have a judge and prosecutor look at you like you're not worth shit. Please, oh educators in the suburbs, explain to us how this helps the child.

Don't tell me you've forgotten. It's all about the children. Don't y'all remember. Well, except when it's not. Except when it's about telling a ten-year-old that he's worthless and deserves to be in jail.

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