This week, a seven year old child (who has special needs), was handcuffed by police after the child became very agitated at school. This happened at a public school in Queens, New York. These are the kinds of news stories that make me, a former teacher, very concerned.
The story started in a classroom at a public elementary school. I’ve read many articles about this story, and I have not been able to definitively determine if the classroom was a Special Education classroom, or if it was a mainstream classroom that included at least one student who had special needs for the particular activity that was taking place. In any case, the students in this classroom were coloring Easter eggs.
A seven year old boy, whose name I will not put into this blog, (because he is a minor), was among the group of students who were coloring Easter eggs. Most of the sources I have read indicate that the boy had special needs. One article said that he had ADHD Another article says that the seven year old had ADHD, delayed speech, and emotional problems.
After reading several sources, it seems that the boy became upset because the Easter egg he was coloring did not come out the color he wanted it to. The boy wanted to re-do his Easter egg, and may have indicated that he wanted to make the egg nice for his mom.
It seems that he was not allowed to re-do his Easter egg. This caused the boy to become more upset. Most reports indicate that he jumped up onto the table. He had a pair of plastic scissors in his hand. It appears that the teachers may have said words that, in effect, meant that if he would not calm down that he would be going to the hospital. Many reports say the boy started yelling that he wanted to see his mother.
His mother was called, and so were police. The police arrived first, put handcuffs on the seven year old, and put him into an ambulance. Police say they did this because the child was acting in a threatening manner, and was restrained to prevent him from causing harm to himself or others. Obviously, the boy’s mother, and the boy himself, are very upset about this incident. There may be a lawsuit happening.
Now, as a former teacher, who has spent about a year working exclusively in a special needs classroom in an elementary school setting, I have concerns. There are several things that can be done to prevent a special needs student, who is having a difficult moment, from causing harm to himself and others. Evacuating other students from the classroom works well.
Many special needs educators are given training about specific kinds of restraining holds that can safely be used on a child in order to prevent the child from harming himself or others. Some schools use quiet rooms, where a child can be isolated safely until he or she can calm down. Calling the police is a last resort, and shouldn’t be done without giving the parent ample time to come pick up their child. I feel that the school district really dropped the ball with this situation.
Image vmiramontes on Flickr