Tuesday, August 4, 2015

"Video: Kentucky officer handcuffs disabled boy"

A widely covered story in the news today is a video of an 8-year-old Kentucky boy with ADHD who was handcuffed by a sheriff's deputy after misbehaving in school. Here are the details as reported by a website called PressTV:
A crying third-grader boy with disabilities was handcuffed by a school resource officer in the US state of Kentucky in the fall of 2014, shows a video released by the American Civil Liberties Union. The video accompanies a federal lawsuit, which was filed on Monday by the ACLU, the Children's Law Center, and Dinsmore & Shohl on behalf of two children against the Kenton County Sheriff's Office in Covington, Kentucky.
The video shows that the officer handcuffs the crying boy’s biceps behind his back leaving him in pain for 15 minutes because of behavior related to his disabilities, the ACLU said.

I am not sure handcuffing the child in this video was the right thing to do. But I am not sure the deputy did the wrong thing, either.
Keep in mind that this boy's behavior was bad enough for the school to call in law enforcement. It's not as if he had a small temper tantrum in class and had to take a time out. His teacher and the school staff made it clear that they could not handle him. And when you see the video it is clear that this kid is seriously enraged and not ready or able to calm down. 
So the officer, it seems to me, had a few choices--none of which was all that good. 
One would have been to simply do nothing--let the kid go on swinging his fists and likely hurting other people or himself and whatever property was near. It is hard to see how this option is better than restraining the child with handcuffs.
A second option would be restrain him manually, firmly holding his arms using the officer's superior strength. But again, that does not seem like such a good idea. At best, it is equal to using handcuffs. At worst, the officer might accidentally break the child's arm or leave a bad bruise. The ACLU or other anti-police groups would then file suit against the officer for use of excessive force.
An option the officer certainly did not have was to tranquilize the child with a sedative. That might have been the best route. However, the deputy is not a medical professional. His charge was to make sure the child did not hurt himself or others, and that is what he accomplished with the handcuffs. If the school officials thought tranquilizing the boy with a drug was the way to go, they would have called for an ambulance, not law enforcement. 
So given the choices open to the officer, it seems to me he did the best he could by handcuffing the boy.
The bigger picture question is why this mentally ill kid has such severe ADHD and why, if the disease is not being controlled, he is in school with other children. A disruptive, violent student can definitively destroy the learning environment for every other student in his classroom. The sick boy's rights do not trump those of the other 29 kids who are there to learn.
A secondary, but related question is how this child's illness is being treated. I don't think you have to be a devotee to "alternative medicine" to think that a proper diet and extra exercise should be prescribed to a child with ADHD. That does not say that medication is not also part of the equation. It may be. But I am certain that a kid with, say, too much sugar in his diet and probably some weird chemicals added to processed foods will be harder to deal with than one who eats a more natural diet filled mostly with proteins and greens. Additionally, I would not be surprised to find that a child who cannot control himself in a classroom setting like this boy would be calmer and more rational if he were forced to burn off his extra energy through vigorous exercise before school every day. 


Edit: August 6, 2015

CNN ran a story today titled, "The handcuffed boy video: How to discipline children with ADHD." Here is a link:


I figured real experts would weigh in and make it clear what the officer did wrong and what he should have done instead. However, if you read the article, you will see the "advice" they give is a worthless load of shit. A pediatrician is quoted saying, "absolutely never, under no circumstances" would you use handcuffs for a child who has ADHD and is out of control." But then exactly what should have been done once the kid was violent and was out of control is not answered. That doctor says the most important "solution" is to have the right body language. Another expert says the "answer" is to "catch them when they are being good." WTF? How the hell does that help this policeman in this troubling circumstance when the boy is clearly not "being good."

If it is true that the school resource officer -- that is, the deputy -- did not do the right thing, the blame really should be placed on the school administrators who asked him to help. Those folks should have, apparently, called in someone who has the proper body language and could use that to "catch him when he is doing good."

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