Edward Hart is currently facing two felony counts after he allegedly got into an altercation with police and damaged the inside of their vehicle. Why is this news-worthy? Because Edward is 8. And he has special needs. So, yes, you read that correctly: Police charged an 8-year-old special needs boy.
Edward ran away from the Hillside Learning and Behavior Center in Allegan, Michigan (something he's done before), and when police caught up with him, a disagreement occurred. After reportedly cursing at officers and breaking the rear police camera, Edward was charged with malicious destruction of police property and resisting and obstructing. His parents, despite doling out a punishment to their son, think the situation is ridiculous. "If they had him under control, why didn’t they ride with him in the back of this cop car," Edward's stepfather told reporters. "So this incident would have never took place?"
Ignorance and ridiculousness of the police officers aside, my thoughts immediately go to the millions of parents, like Edward's, who have to deal with things like this every day of their lives. Not only do they have to deal with children who have special needs and, in Edward's case, anger issues, but they constantly are saddled with the low-grade worry that their child is going to encounter people who aren't compassionate, patient, or understanding. People who are going to be unkind to them; people who are going get them in trouble (cops or otherwise); people who may hurt them. Clearly, parents can't be with their children every minute of the day -- and any parent worries -- but for parents of special needs kids, that worry is amplified, because so many people are ignorant and scared when someone isn't like "everyone else."
It's something many don't give thought to often. Of course, everyone has heard the stories of the jerk who made fun of the autistic boy at the playground, and our heart goes out to both the boy and his parents, but for parents of special needs kids, it goes so much deeper than that. Their worries and fears go beyond that of parents of other children. Depending on their child, in addition to worrying about idiots staring at their kids in the grocery store, they're worried about getting a phone call from the school that their daughter is in trouble again; that their son wandered off school grounds; or that they've gotten in trouble with authorities because of their anger issues.
Sadly, we can't just snap our fingers and make the world a more understanding, caring, and patient place for these children and their parents. But at the very least, we parents, regardless of who our kids are, need to educate our children on how there are different types of unique people in the world, and how it's best to try to come from a place of compassion. That hopefully will help a little.
What do you think of this?