Law enforcement officers are increasingly getting engaged in the process of raising school children in the US. They use corresponding methods. They can handcuff or arrest a pupil for a minor misbehavior, for example, for a drawing on the school desk. Such tough methods are used not only on ordinary school children, but also on autistic children.
For Americans the issue whether the police are to be used in schools became a subject of heated discussions. On the one hand, it is a justified measure when gunshots are heard in education institutions on a regular basis. But on the other hand, the cases of excessive use of force are too frequent. In the US teachers began to delegate their direct responsibilities of raising children to the police. Law enforcement teams are called into schools upon any occasion: if, for example, a pupil refuses to do a task or throws food at others in the school canteen.
In New York a schoolgirl was arrested for three days for a drawing on her school desk. Alexa Gonzalez, 12, was handcuffed and brought to the police department for writing on her desk “I love my friends Abby and Fate” and drawing a smile. The school director considered it to be an act of vandalism and called the police. Another incident took place in a small town of Milledgeville, GA. Little Selesia Johnson had a temper tantrum in the kindergarten. Instead of trying to calm her down, the school director called the police. The law enforcement officers acted according to the standard scheme: they handcuffed the child and arrested her. As a result, the girl got a grave psychological trauma, according to the US rights activists:
“She only turned 6. It was incorrect to treat her that way. I believe that what happened was completely unacceptable. It is a problem of the entire education system, which we need to pay attention to”.
According to some experts, the policy of zero tolerance when any deviation from the rules is followed by a severe punishment has led to this situation. That principle began to be applied in the US in late 1990s after a series of mass killings in American schools, points out Pavel Astakhov, Russia’s children’s rights commissioner:
“There is no doubt that it is related to the violence in schools and violence in the families. This agitation and tension leads to such feverish actions, when the police arrests everybody in their sight, when they shoot at a child with a plastic gun, detain a child for inadequate behavior without bothering to find out that the child is special and he can have certain deviation of mental nature. It is all postponed till later: first they need to act in a tough way, isolate the child and work it out later”.
The result of such policy is obvious – the measures that were designed to guarantee security in schools turned out to be a true lack of any accountability on the part of the police. Ordinary school children as well as autistic children fall victim to that. In Brooklyn the police traumatized a 5-year-old boy with this disorder. During classes the boy turned hysterical. The teachers did not know what to do and called law enforcement. The police tied up the child to the stretcher and took him to a psychiatric clinic. The police also handcuffed the mother and grandmother of the boy who came to the place of the incident. They broke a rib of the elderly woman. And that is not a unique case of this kind, despite the fact that such behavior with autistic children is unacceptable under any circumstances, points out Maria Pugachova, a psychologist:
“Autistic children are children that need to be treated very carefully. In this sense all that goes on is a shock to me. Because autistic children don’t even understand what they are punished for and why. They don’t make the connection, don’t build the reflex. There is no interconnection of them doing something wrong and the punishment that follows, so that they don’t do it again next time. They live by their own order and schedule. It is perhaps inadequate to send a person armed with a gun after a mentally disabled person or apply any sanctions against him”.
The Michigan Education Association directly states that school personnel are not prepared to work with children with mental deviations. Experts point out that mass layoffs of education employees play a negative role. Educators have no time to work with each child and explain the rules of behavior. It is a lot easier and simpler to call the police, which would force the child to obey.