Kids can get out of hand and can cause chaos. That is just a fact. But that doesn't mean that they should be handcuffed, arrested, and emotionally scarred when they misbehave.
That is just what happened, however, to one 9-year-old in Portland, Oregon, last year. The result of her being dramatically taken away by the police has caused outrage, emotional damage, and a call for a big policy change.
What went down?
Last May, two uniformed police officers came to the house of Latoya Harris where they questioned her then-9-year-old daughter about a fight she had with another girl outside of a Boys & Girls Club six days earlier. Her daughter -- who was wearing only a swimsuit after running in a nearby sprinkler -- was handcuffed and taken to the police station in downtown Portland where she was fingerprinted and had her mugshot taken.
"When they put handcuffs on, I thought, 'Wait a minute, this has got to be a joke,'" Harris said of the event. "The look on my daughter's face went from humiliation and fear to a look of sheer panic.'' Of course! Can you imagine how scared this little girl must have been?
Regardless of the details of the scuffle between the two girls, a 9-year-old should NOT be handcuffed and taken downtown in a squad car. It's just not right. And her mom wholeheartedly agrees and is fighting for policies so that this won't happen to another child.
"In my opinion, they were trying to scare and humiliate her," her mom said. "All they had to do was give her a talking-to. We're talking about two grown men in uniform with guns."
A panel from the The Citizen Review Committee will be looking into the situation and to see if a fight for changes should be escalated. Two things they are considering are:
Prevent police from taking a child under 10 years old into custody without an order from a juvenile court judge.
Allow police to take children ages 10 and 11 into custody only on Class A or B felonies. For less serious offenses, a court order would be needed.
That makes total sense, does it not? It's shocking that something like that isn't already in place. There is no reason why a 9-year-old should be treated like an adult in situations like this.
Do you think police should handle children differently?
Image via Adam Ross/Flickr