Editorial: where do we draw the line?

In Orlando last week, a resource officer at an elementary school was fired after he arrested two 6-year-olds. One of the 6-year-olds, a grade one student, was handcuffed and driven away in a police car, without anyone from the school accompanying her.

What has the world come to — that a resource officer — is arresting 6-year-olds … for temper tantrums?

There are a few issues here. One — why is someone working as a resource officer in an elementary school if they think the proper way to deal with a temper tantrum is to arrest the child(ren)? When has it ever made sense to arrest a 6-year-old, put them in handcuffs or put them in the back of a police car?

Also, how do 6-year-olds manage to get arrested in a school without a principal or teacher stepping in? How does it escalate to that point in the first place? I mean, temper tantrums, I can understand. They happen. Kids aren’t perfect, that’s why they’re called kids. I can understand teachers being frustrated, too, with students’ behaviour or maybe not having enough support in a classroom. But I think even a stressed out teacher wouldn’t agree with a child being put in handcuffs and into a police car over a tantrum.

So where do we draw the line?

I’m not sure I can tell you one thing that happened or that I did when I was in grade one. Scratch that — I wrote on the big paper that my teacher used with a marker and then didn’t fess up to it when the teacher asked our entire class who did it. If they knew it was me, they never said anything. If I had gotten in trouble, should I have been handcuffed and taken away in a police car? In my defence, all I wanted to do was draw. Maybe that’s not a great comparison to a temper tantrum, but still, people, we’re talking about 6-year-olds.

Kids at those young ages are going to make mistakes, do things they aren’t supposed to, get upset about things, overreact — the whole nine yards. Those are the years they’re supposed to make those mistakes and be taught what was wrong about what they did and how they could have handled it better without fearing being arrested.

It might be time to reevaluate the way some people deal with kids. Are you there to teach and mold them the right way, or exert power in unnecessary circumstances?

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