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New York Police Handcuff First-Grader

New York Police Handcuff First-Grader

A 7-year-old student in a special-education class in New York City was handcuffed by police after he became upset while decorating an Easter egg.  Teachers at the Queens school say that first-grader Joseph Anderson didn’t like the way his Easter egg turned out, and began to throw a tantrum.  When teachers told him calmly that he needed to quiet down or be sent to the hospital, he jumped on his desk and screamed, “I just want my mommy!”  He was then handcuffed and taken to the hospital by a New York City police officer, even though his mother was on her way to the school.

“He was crying and saying, ‘I want Mommy,’” his mother, Jessica Anderson, said. “Why handcuff him? Why get the cops involved? He’s only 7.”

The NYPD says that they acted appropriately.  In a statement, they said that not only was Joseph yelling and crying, he was “acting in a threatening manner.”  School officials said that they did everything they could to calm him, but it wasn’t enough.  “The school tried to defuse the situation and then called for outside assistance when there was a concern the child would harm himself or others,” explained City Education Department spokesperson Marge Feinberg.

The police went further.  “He was a danger to himself and others in the classroom,” a NYPD spokesman said. “He started spitting and cursing at the officers. The handcuffs were used to restrain the child because of his behavior. He was a danger to himself.”  Joseph has been suspended from school for two weeks.  This is the third time the school has sent him to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

According to Ms. Anderson, Joseph has been traumatized since the incident.  He has been wetting the bed and throwing up.  His mother adds, “”If he hears an ambulance, he runs under the bed and screams, ‘They’re going to get me.’ He’s really traumatized. I don’t let him watch the news anymore, because if he sees cops, he cries.”

Clearly, there’s so much wrong with how school officials and police officers dealt with this child, resulting in far more trauma than disappointment with an Easter egg could possibly have inspired.  It is never necessary to handcuff a 7-year-old child, and even if he was behaving in a “threatening” manner, was it really appropriate to call the police?  It sounds as though this may be a case of discrimination against special education students, although it’s clear that the NYPD is not averse to putting students in handcuffs more generally.

This is a horrible incident, especially in what’s supposed to be a learning environment.  Clearly, both the police force and the Department of Education need to rethink whether they’re helping, punishing or traumatizing these poor students.

 

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166 comments

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10:23PM PST on Nov 14, 2011

Just yet another example of bullys with badges & guns. America has become a "Police State".
Sieg Heil !

Wish we had enough Euro $$ to leave!

There are several options that could have used as opposed to handcuffs:

!) A strong but "gentle" police officer simply sit down and hold the child in his lap
2) do the above & call EMS & get an MD's OK to give sedation
3) Isolate the child pending arrival of Mother or EMS
4) Remove the other children from the class

But I'm just a dumb ex-internal affairs cop

And now the NYPD has shoulder fired ground to air missles tp prevent another "9/11". That is what the Air National Guard is for (The ANG are not just "week-end warriors" They are paid, full time to respond to possible "unfriendly" aircraft entering US Airspace, 24/7 -365

What next?

3:53PM PST on Nov 13, 2011

The only person that really acted in appropriatley in this incident was the police officer that put a 7 year old boy in hand cuffs. I hope that he was at least suspended and during his suspension given training on how to properly do hos job!!

6:18PM PDT on Jul 1, 2011

NYPD is following the principal's orders. The school overreacted.

12:30AM PDT on May 1, 2011

Where the heck was the school counselor? The school social worker? The school psychologist? What in the world is the school thinking? Was there no one available who is trained in de-escalation and restraint, why call the police?

This is why cutting so called "non-essential" services like school based mental health is rediculous! I work in a public school and cussing, spitting and jumping on tables in not a reason to call the police, it's a cry for help...where were the helpers?

7:39AM PDT on Apr 27, 2011

Seven yrs old is 7 yrs old. Very young. No matter what problems that boy had it sure wasn't right to handcuff him.

3:05AM PDT on Apr 26, 2011

Incredible. Do they have handcuffs that small? If so, why?

10:39AM PDT on Apr 25, 2011

This school overreacted to begin with. It would have been easy to isolate the child in another room until a parent came to get him, if all else failed. The police should never have been brought into the situation, but their action was outrageous.

The parents of this child must take him out of this school immediately, then take legal action against the school and the police department. They will have to pay for years of therapy, and fees for a good school.

8:18AM PDT on Apr 25, 2011

If anyone needs an example for my point.
look up the video where some police officers bust a father for a small bag a weed and then shoot the families dog (which was in a kennel and posed no threat) right in front of the kid.
I've seen them act like this first hand.
I've lost all respect for police officers through my whole life of fighting against the war on drugs.
I've never encountered a group with more prejudices and more hate then any other group
so if you are a police officer and are reading this..
don't be offended..
be a better example of a police officer..
join an organization like LEAP or something who are trying to stop these injustices.

8:14AM PDT on Apr 25, 2011

More than a bit too much.........totally surprising....what an incredible action the police took. Looks like someone is going to justifiablly be sued!

8:07AM PDT on Apr 25, 2011

Totally unnecessary.
I've dealt with enough police officers to know that they are mostly rude, arrogant, power mad, have no respect for people's rights, and don't care if they traumatize children (watch a good parent get busted for like a gram, lose their children and watch how much they don't care about traumatizing the child).
There are some really good police officers out there,
but there are some real scum out there who I'd consider worse than most criminals.
I even had a girlfriend who was creeped on by a cop every other day who tried to feel her up every time she got in trouble.
That's the reality.
Cops can be really bad people because they are in a position than gives them power.
that attracts some really bad people.
My point is that we need to watch cops for bad behavior twice as much as we have to watch our own citizens because officers have twice as much power.

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