These Elementary School Students Avoided a Fight -- but Were Arrested Anyway

handcuffsIt's hard to imagine just one child between the ages of 6 and 10 getting arrested for any reason, but the thought of five elementary school–aged kids in handcuffs for the "crime" of not stopping a fight is nearly incomprehensible. Sadly, that's exactly what happened in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, last week -- and their parents (not to mention a lot of other people) are understandably outraged.

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If you're hoping, at this point, that maybe learning the details of this incident will make it somehow less absurd, I'm sorry to tell you that's not the case -- there's literally nothing about this story that makes any sense at all.

Apparently "at least" five students from Hobgood Elementary School were handcuffed and detained by police officers on Friday on the accusations that they failed to intervene in an altercation that occurred off the school grounds a few days earlier. Police identified the spectators from video footage of the fight and subsequently obtained warrants for their arrests. The kids were held at a juvenile detention center and released later that day. And while police wouldn't reveal which state law the kids violated, exactly, several parents said their children were charged with "criminal responsibility for conduct of another." It's worth noting that at least half of the kids involved are black.

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Why these young children are being held responsible for the conduct of anyone else is unclear, but perhaps Zacchaeus Crawford -- father of three of the kids who were arrested -- put it best when, per the Daily News Journal and WKRN, he said: 

There are innocent kids that have been arrested, that have been entered in a system they have no business in ... Three people, three kids, all having to be arrested, all having to be processed, entered into the system, and they didn't do anything.

As a mother, as a human being, I just can't begin to wrap my head around this insanity. Why, why, why?? They're children. And guess what parents and teachers tell children? Don't get into fights. Stay away from kids who do get into fights. Be safe. Don't get hurt. These kids were most likely just doing what they were told, but still they couldn't win. Think about it: If any of them had tried to intervene, they likely would have been pulled into the fray themselves and then, who knows, probably arrested for fighting! 

It's deeply unfair that these kids were forced to experience this level of trauma for absolutely no reason at all. How are kids who go through something like this expected to have any trust or faith in the system at all? Then again, the sad truth is that these kids might be better off not trusting in the system anyway. After all, from what we've been seeing lately, chances are it will only fail them again.

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To make matters worse, there's only been the slightest acknowledgment of wrongdoing on the part of the authorities so far, with the police chief saying the experience was something to "learn" from, and that they want to "make things better so they don't happen again." The city manager also promised that "if something needs to be corrected, it will be."

I should certainly hope so, but I wouldn't be surprised if things didn't get "better" and if nothing was "corrected." There have simply been far too many stories recently of authority figures abusing their positions at the expense of innocent kids for me to believe we're anywhere close to a solution. That's scary, and it's sad, and it's finally just a huge shame. 

 

Image via Steven Depolo/Flickr

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