ACLU attorneys in Kentucky are suing a police department for handcuffing an eight year old boy and a six year old girl at school. The compliance officer allegedly used handcuffs to restrain the children, but because of the small size of the kids, he had to cuff them around their biceps. The ACLU attorneys posted video of one of the incidents which is viewable here.
After getting over the initial surprise of the idea of handcuffing elementary school kids at school, I watched the video of the incident. While there is apparently a rule in place that allows school children to be restrained if they are a threat to physically harm others or themselves, I cannot imagine that the rule intended for the restraints to be handcuffs placed around the child’s biceps, as is seen in the video. If adults in schools are going to be allowed to physically restrain children, then there needs to be a better mechanism in place.
If you look at the position of the child’s arms in the handcuffs, it appears to be an awkward and painful position. In fact, if you to put your arms in that same position, you will find that it is painful in your shoulders and back. It appears from the video that the position of the handcuffs is not only painful, but it is also not helping to calm the boy down at all. If the desired effect of the handcuffs is to halt the boy’s tantrum, then it is failing.
This is a good example of the idea that justice and safety is not a one size fits all paradigm. It appears from this video that handcuffs are not a useful tool for elementary students. Hopefully, this lawsuit will result in safer and more useful methods for dealing with unruly school children.
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