The video below shows a school resource officer handcuffing an eight year old boy at school, who has been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). The officer in question is Kenton County Deputy Sheriff Kevin Sumner, in Covington, Kentucky. Behavior associated with ADHD led to the officer handcuffing the boy. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Children’s Law Center, and Dinsmore & Shohl have filed a lawsuit regarding this incident, and another incident that isn’t shown in the video, in which a nine year old girl who also suffers from ADHD and other disabilities received the same treatment.
This case serves as another example of Police without adequate training, or a disregard of that training. Chances are, it’s the former that led to this incident. Regardless of the behavior the child was exhibiting, there was no need to handcuff him as if he was a criminal. There was no weapon in the video, and if you listen to the officer after the child is handcuffed, you’ll hear him say that the child swung at him. If the officer was dealing with an adult, and that adult took a swing at the officer, then an action of this nature, or worse may be understandable. This, however, is an eight year old, a far cry from being an adult. An eight year old doesn’t pose much of a threat. Sure, he took a swing at the officer, as he says in the video, but that doesn’t really pose much of a threat to the officer’s safety. There is no need to traumatize the child by handcuffing him.
What kind of message does an incident such as this send to an eight year old? What is this boy going to think the next time he encounter’s a police officer?
Aside from a lack of training, there seems to be a lack of common sense. Who thinks to handcuff a child because they were acting inappropriately? Sometimes children are a handful to deal with, but handcuffing the child should never be the way to deal with the problem. Regardless of a mental disability, you don’t handcuff children because they were acting in a less than desirable manner. Children are children. Sometimes they are difficult to deal with, but that’s because they are children. There are many ways to deal with a child that don’t include handcuffs. If a father threw handcuffs on his kid in public, imagine the public outrage, and of course, the heavy handed reaction from police, and child protective services in regards to the horrible parent who put handcuffs on a child. Now, of course, people aren’t all that happy about what this officer did, but will he face any repercussions from this? If one takes a look at other, more serious cases, then it’s easy to say a less than positive trend has been set in these types of cases.
There is, however, another issue that hasn’t been raised in the video, or in the accompanying article the ACLU provided. Where exactly were the teacher’s at this school, who should most definitely be able to deal with a child of this nature? Did they call in the officer, or did he happen to stumble upon a child who was already out of control? Or did the child react in a negative way when the officer entered the room? That much is unknown, but the teacher’s most likely have the training to deal with this child, and they don’t seem to be present. There was probably a teacher out of frame, but did the teacher do anything to deal with the child before the officer stepped in with his handcuffs to ‘save the day’? Now, the officer could have asked for a teacher to assist, especially if they are the ones dealing with this type of behavior, and have training that apparently a school resource officer lacks.
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