South Carolina...The Tip Of the Iceberg
I know there's two sides to every story, but at this moment, I don't care. The safety of our children in school is on the line so nothing else matters.
When I saw this video showing a school resource officer in South Carolina using physical force - excessive or otherwise - on a young woman sitting at her desk who had apparently refused to leave class, I simply couldn't believe what I was seeing. What the hell is going on here?
This child wasn't brandishing a weapon. She wasn't holding other students hostage. She wasn't tossing books at the teacher or trashing the room. She was refusing to leave the classroom. The reasons why she was being asked to leave don't even matter. What matters is the action this "official" took, the impact on this child and her classmates, and the message this sends to other school officials -- a "green light" to use physical force to gain compliance. Not to mention the clear lack of training in communication and de-escalation strategies.
I'm painfully aware of children with autism being locked in rooms alone or restrained. Teens with mental health issues being caught in the juvenile justice system because their "hidden disabilities" were ignored or misunderstood. My own child was physically carried out of the lunchroom in elementary school and suffice to say, there was hell to pay. It's still a situation that haunts me to this day.
There are increasing numbers of our children walking into school every day at risk, not simply by strangers with motives to do harm, but by the officials charged with their safety and well-being. We teach our children to respect authority figures...that they're there to help them and keep them safe. And then this?
I get that there are situations in school where there's a risk of a child doing harm to themselves or to others. I know that schools and teachers are facing a host of issues today that simply didn't exist 25 years ago. Yet to allow *any* adult to touch a child in this manner is a no-go. No excuses. No explanations. No nothing. This is outrageous, disturbing, and well beyond.
Complaints, lawsuits...there aren't enough attorneys or complaints to file that would make this okay. Every parent knows how hard it is to be a parent and to raise our children in this world without this added level of concern coming from the place where teaching life lessons is as important as academics. We have street strategies being used on children in school with special needs, minority children...all of our children.
If I could say anything to this child's parents, it would be this -- please make sure your daughter is receiving support. Because no matter the reason why she refused to leave this classroom, nothing is more important or pressing than her sense of safety and self-esteem. The rest can wait until tomorrow.