Police Arrest 9-Year-Old Autistic Boy for Misbehaving at School

That's Criminal 76

handcuffsThis story out of Illinois in which a 9-year-old autistic boy was arrested for assault after an incident at school is as infuriating as it is heartbreaking. It's also a grim example of how ill-equipped our schools and society often are when it comes to dealing with autism.

Brandi Kirchner told KHQA about the incident that happened last week at the school of her son, Roger Parker, Jr. She said he had a "meltdown" during class, and school officials sent him to a "special area" to calm down. It didn't work, and after he climbed a dividing wall, the police were called.

As the officer pulled the young boy from the wall, the boy struggled and flailed, injuring his eye on the divider. At some point he reportedly kicked the police officer in the nose. Kirchner said the officer then pulled her son to the floor, handcuffed him, and took him to the police station. The traumatic event didn't end there. 

She told the news station:

I asked to see my son. Forty-five minutes later, after they told me he did not need a parent present because he was under arrest and not being interrogated. He was fingerprinted, photographed, and booked for aggravated battery to a police officer.

He is 9! He has autism! How was this allowed to happen? Kirchner says there was a plan in place as to how to handle her son if there was an outburst, and it was not followed. Of course for the safety and well-being of other students and the boy himself, something had to be done, but there had to be a better way. And to charge him for assault afterward is baffling.

Kirchner has since removed her son from the public school system and is looking into home school options. I would too if something like this happened to my child, but it's too bad that she has to do so.

Time and again we hear stories like this and worse in which students with autism and other special needs are being mistreated in our nation's schools. I don't doubt that it's a challenge for teachers and schools to meet the diverse and sometimes extreme needs of these children, as it is for their families as well, and I know resources are limited. But we've got to do a better job. With as many as 1 in 88 children being diagnosed with autism, it's a big issue, and incidents like this are a big problem.

Do you find it outrageous that police would charge a 9-year-old autistic boy with assault for this kind of incident?

Image via peter castleton/Flickr

autism, elementary school, homeschool


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mrspease mrspease

The parent puts a plan in place for the school for a reason. It's because she knows her son and what he responds well to. If the school didn't follow it, then they are at fault. Pretty sure any judge with half of a brain will throw this case out, if it even makes it that far.

NYCmo... NYCmommy100

Who in their right mind would ARESST A NINE YEAR OLD?! I really agree with mrspease about a judge would say no to this case.

nonmember avatar Sarah.S.

I can see two sides of this story:

1) This child is only 9 and he has special needs. He is obviously incapable of controlling his actions and emotions so it isn't fully his fault.

2) This brings the realization that this child won't be a small child for long. He kicked a police officer in the face, imagine the damage he could do if he were even two years older. There comes a point when a person with special needs can really harm someone when they are out of control. What is a person to do when they feel threatened?

Should we expect a police officer to not arrest an out of control teen because he has special needs?

If 1 in 88 children have autism...then that is a lot of opportunity for clashes between people who are unable to control themselves and people who are tasked with keeping society going smoothly.

All in all it is a crappy situation.

Mommi... MommietoJB

His special education teacher and school officials are at fault for this. #1 you cannot leave an autistic child unsurpervised especially when he/she is having a tantrum they can hurt themselves or escape. And the police wow what a bunch of idiots, talk about abuse of power and authority.

cmjaz cmjaz

Don't blame the school. They are now so limited on how they can handle certain situations, that the cops have to be called whereas before, they could handle it themselves and with the parents. I'm assuming the school thought he was being an immediate danger to others and himself and had to do something right away and not wait for mom.

Tripl... TripleC14

I think arresting a 9yr old is pretty crazy, but to keep him from his parents at the station is beyond ridiculous. I'd be interested to hear the police take on their actions.

homes... homeschoolx3

@ cmjaz- Really??!! Dont blame the school officials for acting like the incompetent idiots that they are? They will be lucky if they dont get their asses sued over this.  

Caera Caera

I feel for the kid, but schools are limited on what they can do to handle a kid who's acting out is a danger to himself or others. If the school isn't set up to handle a special needs child, and a child is special needs, then as the parent you're setting your kid up to fail.

It doesn't sound like this kid should've been in a regular classroom to begin with.

Felip... FelipesMom

It is true that the schools are sometimes limited in what they can do, but that is irrelevant in this case if there was a plan in place and the school didn't follow it.

CPN322 CPN322

I understand somewhat why the police had to be called but to arrest him as well is ridiculous. And yes, to the one commentor, I would expect a police officer to not arrest a special needs teen either. We really need to stop looking at the world as though it is black and white and focus more on each individual situation when it comes to those who are not functioning on the same level as the rest of us. Also, if there was a plan set in place on how to handle such a situation, and the school chose not to follow it, the school is absolutely at fault. I would only not want them held accountable if they had tried the plan and it had failed. I'm glad she pulled him from public school.

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