That seems to be the attitude these days — especially in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings. Forget protecting these innocent little lives; arrest them and insure that they grow up to be troubled teens and adults. Quite the vicious circle.
I first learned of this new trend three weeks ago, when I read “Students Arrested for Throwing Spitballs“, Lollipops” in my local newspaper! The story was as bad as the headline made it sound. Offenses that used to result in a trip to the principal’s office and detention or suspension are now prompting police visits and, often, handcuffs.
Thousands of Florida students are arrested in school each year and taken to jail for behavior that once warranted a trip to the principal’s office — a trend that troubles juvenile-justice and civil-rights leaders who say children are being traumatized for noncriminal acts.
Though the number of school arrests has dropped significantly since the state eased its “zero tolerance” policies a few years ago, there are still far too many kids handcuffed and hauled away in front of their classmates, said Wansley Walters, secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.
“The vast majority of children being arrested in schools are not committing criminal acts,” Walters said.
Gordon Weekes, Broward County‘s chief assistant public defender, notes that:
• Suspended students who show up at schools have been charged with trespassing.
• Those who throw spitballs were charged with battery.
• Those who shouted or used profanity were accused of disrupting a school function.
Sixty-seven percent of the school arrests last year were for misdemeanors such as disorderly conduct — a catchall, attorneys say, that has been used when children refused to take a cellphone out of a pocket or yelled in class. Fewer than 5 percent faced weapons charges.
I figured this was unique to my state. We don’t call it FloriDUH for nothing. That’s not the case, though we seem to lead the pack.
The “school-to-prison pipeline” is a national problem, said Scott Roberts, a campaign coordinator with the Advancement Project, a national civil-rights group working to stem school arrests. Florida reports more than any other state. However, Roberts also noted that Florida is more accurate and thorough than some others in documenting its arrests.
Outrage over the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre may or may not spur any meaningful gun control laws, but you can bet your Crayolas that it will lead to more seven-year-olds getting handcuffed and hauled away to local police precincts….
And when police (or “school resource officers” as these sheriff’s deputies are often known) spend time in a school, they often deal with disorder like proper cops — by slapping cuffs on the little perps and dragging them to the precinct.
Just ask the three nine-year-old girls and an eight-year-old boy who got into a fight at their Baltimore elementary school — then got arrested by real police. Or Salecia Johnson, age six, cuffed and arrested for throwing a tantrum at her elementary school in Milledgeville, Georgia. Or Wilson Reyes, a seven-year-old at a Bronx, New York, elementary school who last December 4th was cuffed, hauled away, and interrogated under suspicion of taking $5 from a classmate. (Another kid later confessed.)
The last of these incidents made the cover of the New York Post, but the New York City Police Department still doesn’t understand what they did wrong — sure, the first-grader spent about 4 hours handcuffed in a detention room, but that’s “standard for juvenile arrest.”
It was a strange coincidence that I had booked Chase Madar to come on the show this morning. I was actually a few minutes late getting started because I got a call from my kid’s school. I had to go pick her up because she was suspended after arguing with her teacher and using profanity at another kid.
Good thing that she’s not in public school (I have her in a private school as she has ADHD) or she might have been arrested! (see above • Those who shouted or used profanity were accused of disrupting a school function.)
What are we coming to? Rhetorical question, as I don’t think there’s an answer to that.
Maysoon Zayid also joined in- as she does on Thursday mornings. We recapped the Oscars (both the Academy and Pistorius types), talked Chris Christie and other stuff too…
Now back to parenting. Ugh.