A Chicago parent was outraged in March when, she says, her 6-year-old daughter was handcuffed at school for taking candy off a teacher’s desk, NBC-5 Chicago reports.
The police officer who allegedly handcuffed the girl also told the girl’s mother he handcuffed her because he was “doing his job” and to “teach her a lesson.”
The mother plans to sue Chicago Public Schools, but no record of any lawsuit could be found. “I said, ‘Why you have my baby in cuffs?'” she told NBC-5 Chicago. “He said, ‘Because I’m trying to teach them to stop taking stuff that don’t belong to them.'”
The 6-year-old at Fernwood Elementary in Chicago was reportedly restrained for about an hour under stairs.
Any lawsuit has a chance, I believe. Handcuffing students who commit minor infractions or in order to “teach them” a lesson is police action usually reserved for Bible Belt schools, including Blue Creek Academy, a religious reform school for boys in the West Virginia hills. The Daily Beast has the story of boys who were handcuffed, raped, and beaten daily as part of the reform effort.
Or for schools that want to curb bullying and haul elementary students off to juvenile detention centers in handcuffs, including Hobgood Elementary School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in April. The Associated Press has the story of students who were accused of off-campus bullying but the charges were dropped. The prosecutor wouldn’t say why.
But she did offer some reflection on the event: “This was a wake-up call that there were some real problems with protocol that need to be addressed,” the AP quoted her as saying.
After the child arrests, the police chief formed a committee to look into the situation and make recommendations. They found “a series of internal conflicts and miscommunications between police and school authorities” that brought on the arrests.
“I’m more angry than anything, because it’s my only daughter,” the Chicago mother was quoted as saying. “I feel like anything could have happened to her. Somebody could have touched her. She’s in the dark under the stairs.”
Fernwood Elementary is located at 10041 South Union Avenue in Chicago. Its student population is about 99.7 percent black.