I Need To Say Something About This…
For the past few days we've seen the leaked cell phone videos of the girl yanked from the classroom in South Carolina by a resource officer, and I have something to say.
It sickens me to read the comments under these videos from those supporting this police officer's actions toward this young girl. As a mother, former child care provider and a human being I find any defense of his actions to be outrageous and unconscionable, and here's why:
As parents, educators or child care providers when a very young child is upset or frustrated on the playground or in the home and they lash out physically what is the first thing we do? We quickly correct and redirect right? This is how I imagine that conversation might go:
Adult: Oh no johnny! We don't hit/push/punch our friends! You need to use your words not your body.
Child: But Susie took the toy I was playing with!
Adult: Then you need to talk to Susie about that or come get an adult if you can't work it out together.
In the video captured by cell phones around the room, the girl was refusing to leave the classroom, but she did not lash out physically at the officer nor did she lash out at any students or teachers or threaten anyone physically at all. Yet this full grown man felt that it was appropriate to violently and forcefully remove her from her desk, causing said desk to be flung across the room with her. After which he handcuffed her like a criminal.
The biggest argument for this Officer seems to be,
"Well, we don't know what happened before this"
I'm sorry, but it DOES NOT matter what she said before this. Using excessive force on a teenage girl is NOT the message we should be sending student or children.
His actions create a different conversation then the one we had with "Johnny".
His actions teach "Johnny" that if he wants "Susie" to do something he doesn't need to talk it out with her, he can just physically force her to do what he wants.
This speaks to a bigger conversation that I'm not sure I can have in one blog, but lets not overlook the fact that this was assault. If a parent did this to their child, it would be considered child abuse and DHHS would be called. If a teacher had done this they would be arrested.
I want you to stop and think about your own child, or cousin, or sibling or neice/nephew/friends child... pretend that the child you are picturing now was the one sitting in that seat. Now tell me how you feel.... NOW tell me that we "don't know what happened before to cause this reaction."
It doesn't matter what happened before. This man has an obligation to "serve and protect" the students by the very nature of his job, and I sincerely hope his actions haven't caused these students to fear the very people whose job it is to help them.
This girl absolutely should have listened to her teachers, and yes children should respect authority (when it is not abused). However, I am certain that he could have found a better way. Thankfully this officer's employers agree, because NPR has reported that this police officer has been fired.
And while I am happy for that I am honestly saddened by the growing trend of violence I see around me. I don't know how to end it, nor do I pretend to have the answers... but maybe starting the conversation is a step in the right direction.