April 26, 2005

Have we gone INSANE?

I am emotionally spent and utterly drained by this story. I have been debating this on various message boards and newspaper forums. I have talked about this story till I am almost blue in the face.

As a mom, I am HORRIFIED by some of the postings I have seen in my travels through cyberspace. Some wanted this little girl TAZERED, SHOT, HOG TIED, taken away from her mother, placed in a mental institution and exterminated.

Here is a condensed version of my feelings:

(After my initial viewing of the video)

Looking at this video showed me that the teacher, or whoever the woman was with the child, was ill trained in dealing with an UNRULY child. She was NOT Kicking, NOT screaming. YES, she did tear up some papers and knock somethings over. She did try to punch AT the woman, however, she never raised her voice above saying "NO!" Am I excusing her behavior? Of course not.

But hello? She is FIVE YEARS OLD! Her behavior wasn't out of the normal scope of a child her age! How on earth do u justify cuffing a CHILD? They could have sat with that little girl till her mother arrived. There are ways to redirect children without that prolonged display and if they don't know how to deal with a 5 yr old child's bad behavior, get a NEW JOB!

Remember, Florida has a very bad track record with incidents of children being disciplined in EXTREME ways for MINOR offenses. The Florida police also used a TAZER on a 6 yr old.
Common sense and better protocols/procedures for the police and the school district need to be impleted ASAP. It isnt rocket science. She isnt the 1st unruly child in kindergarten and she wont be the last.


(In response to a poster saying the school was right for calling the police)

There are certain procedures, including BASIC COMMON SENSE measures, like redirection that are used with to handle a child who is acting out. What disturbs me is the CHOICE to get the POLICE involved. Has it come to this where the police are brought in to handle basic child issues?

I think not.

(In response to the assertion that THIS child was a bad seed)

It amazes me how people have painted this LITTLE girl as the POSTER CHILD for various SOCIETAL ILLS. It also amazes me when it appears that some of you have NO problem with the police handling SIMPLE COMMON SENSE situations when they could be arresting REAL CRIMINALS?

What on earth is going on?

(After seeing the 1st lawyer on the news)

Now, I watched the Today's Show this morning and listened to the mother's attorney. Evidently, the teacher and the assistant principal had been instructed "NOT to touch her child". With that piece of information, I feel that the MOM placed the school in a NO WIN position. Their hands were tied.

But there is enough blame to go around. We can ALL be textual arm chair quarterbacks AFTER the fact, however, this is still a CHILD. EVERY child is allowed to have a bad day. Or multiple bad days, but to PROJECT the image of MONSTER on her is wrong.

(My breaking point)

Here is how I feel based on all the comments and what I have read or seen in the media:

1.) I still think that the teachers COULD have taken her to a room that didn't have things in there to tear up. She COULD have taken her to the playground, the gym or the cafeteria and let her unwind, instead of a more claustrophobic room.

BUT she didn't.

2.) The mother COULD have gotten to the school earlier. Based on some PSEUDO CSI/ GOOGLE/ NEWS reports the incident happened around 2pm. Her mother was stated as saying she got off WORK at 3 and would be there at 3:15. Depending on the commute and whether or not she had been doing this repeatedly, it may have caused a financial hardship in the family to leave IMMEDIATELY. Heaven forbid she lose her job and wind up on state assistance, because THEN she will be just another mom on welfare.

But SHE didn't.

Now that in itself doesn't make her a bad mom, but IF this child has ongoing emotional problems, she has done herself and the school a disservice for NOT getting her the help she needs.

3.) When the police showed up, the little girl was calm and sitting down. They COULD have just waited with her until MOM showed up. They COULD have talked to her for a while to gain her confidence and reassure her.

But THEY didn't

4.) Assuming that this CHILD is a demon seed 24/7 is unfair. It IS however unfair for the other kids to be denied an education because of other children, but this was KINDERGARTEN! For GOOGLE's SAKE, the only thing that MAY have been missed are the intricacies of Jelly beans vs. Jolly Ranchers!

(In response to the lawsuit)

Finally, I don't believe in frivolous lawsuits. However, based on the news report, the lawyer said that it may take 6 months before a suit is filed. They have to first file an "INTENT TO SUE". There has to be an internal investigation and then legal action will be addressed. If I were on the jury, I would hope the mom would only get enough to adequately get her child the help she needs.

(In response to racially insensitive comments)

Children of color don't need yet another stigma, especially one that labels them incorrigible or incapable of learning. Plus, this image in the press lends itself to SWEEPING generalizations and stereotypes.

From what I ALSO have read, her FEET were ALSO cuffed and she was placed in the back of the cruiser. That is so OUTRAGEOUS, but I will back up my point with this article dated almost a YEAR ago.

Deputies told to ask brass before arresting children

Soon after the arrest, [Kevin Doll] defended the deputy, saying that because there was enough evidence and the victim wanted prosecution, he was obliged to arrest the child. "That pretty much ties our hands, and we have to enforce the law," Doll said.

On Tuesday, though, Doll acknowledged that the deputy had other options. And, nine days after the arrest, Col. Richard Worch ordered the new procedure, which is to call a superior before taking a child 12 or younger to a detention center.

"Col. Worch wants the deputies to know that those possibilities are there and to look into them before taking a juvenile (12 or younger) to the juvenile assessment center," Doll said. "But that still may be the right thing to do."

The police FAILED to follow it's OWN rules.

(In response to being asked why my comments weren't color blind)

I am an AFRICAN AMERICAN mom raising a 10 yr old disabled daughter. I see the effects of homelessness, poverty, teen pregnancy, crime and apathy in my city every day. It saddens me when I see cases like this because of narrow minded opinions that don't lend themselves to a wider scope of fairness and sensitivity. This child is NOT the devil incarnate. YES she was wrong. YES she needed to be disciplined. YES her mother clearly needs help. But painting a picture of a raving maniac that has ascended the depths of HELL to keep these poor poor children in ultimate DOOM and PERIL is a little overly DRAMATIC.

Placing ANY child in a HOG TIED position and placed in the back of a police car would be traumatic. But I guess until it happens to one of YOUR children we will never know. She isn't an animal.

Please dont treat her like one.

(in response to a poster understanding the child MAY have a learning or mental disability)

THANK YOU! I have been mentioning that to so many people ON and OFFLINE. It is SO important for children to be assessed by their pediatricians for developmental delays or delays in reaching basic developmental milestones as they grow. Early intervention services are KEY to making sure these children receive the appropriate diagnostics, case management, and service coordination.

My daughter was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and delayed myelination at 18 months old. Having her diagnosed early was critical to getting the best therapeutic options to facilitate her mental, physical, and emotional needs.

She has NEVER had a meltdown at school, but she does have problems with transitioning from one enviroment to the next. AFTER school is when the meltdowns occur occassionally. She is sometimes agitated and tired from the day's overstimulation and will just cry. For me, it was imperative to find what works for MY child as it relates to REDIRECTING her outbursts and getting her to "Self-Calm".

Children, similar to my daughter, that are autistic or have sensory integration dysfunction tend to have a difficult time with understanding visual, audio, tone, musical and verbal cues or sounds. Their brains have difficulty deciphering nerve messages to create comprehension and functionality of movements or speech.

So I am very sensitive to the handling of children, ESPECIALLY at this little girl's age when people are so quick to dismiss her as a bad seed. Her inability to express herself and the need to strike out is indicative of children with immature impulse responses or control. It could be from some underlying medical problem.

Inclusion and sensitivity shouldn't be so hard to give someone. but in this society, public spectacle, ridicule and shaming seems to be the Millenium equivalent to throwing the less advantaged to the lions in the Roman Coliseum.

Shame on us.

(In response to finding out the mother had fired her initial lawyer & is now making the talk show circuit)

I hate when situations are exploited for profit. The mother's motives for doing the interview may not be any different than the siege of publicity hounds that drive this sensationalistic media we have today. The WORSE thing this child needs is the idea that BAD BEHAVIOR needs to be rewarded. I agree that this case should be thrown out of an already beleaguered judical system. But if anything comes of this, perhaps an internal investigation of how the police deal with children will be addressed.

Now that I have seen the depths to the opportunistic displays, I am gonna walk away from this until I see the rest of this circus unfold. The "RACE" card is a term that has been applied to almost EVERY situation that involves an African American defendant and is clearly overused.

The quest for justice should be color blind. So should the quest of our teachers whose job is being underminded by parents that won't or haven't equipped their children with the necessary social, emotional and educational preparedness to learn. If this mom doesn't do the right thing by this child, shame on her.

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