I’ve had enough of watching cell phone footage and or body cam videos of children assaulted by school resource officers. As a parent, I can’t imagine what it must feel like to send your child to school to receive an education only for them to come home concussed and bruised by an adult who is responsible for their safety. Let me make this very clear, IF YOU DON’T LIKE CHILDREN, the education field IS NOT FOR YOU. It’s very simple. At least it should be.
My blood reached a boiling point last week as I watched a six minute video of former police officer Zachary Christensen brutally assault an eleven year old student at a school in Farmington, New Mexico. There is NEVER an excuse for an adult to treat a child in that manner. I get it, kids can be hard to deal with at times. They catch attitudes that make you call on the name of Jesus. I understand, but at no point in life should the assault of a child take place simply because an adult couldn’t contain themselves. Once again, it takes a special person to seek a career in education, if you don’t have the patience to deal with children, find another profession. For this reason, our children need patience, compassion, and understanding.
For six minutes I watched an adult man lose his shit (don’t excuse my language) with a sixth grade girl. Here is the point where I choose my words carefully. I don’t care if you don’t like a child’s attitude, I don’t care if you FEEL like the child was being disrespectful. Unless this is your child, keep your hands and delicate feelings to yourself. Did I see the girl’s attitude? Yes. Is there a way she could have been redirected? Absolutely. Here’s the thing though, we have no idea what sort of trauma this young lady is going through. We have no idea what she is dealing with outside of school. Instead of letting the administration handle the student (who was not a threat to anyone) a grown man decided it was time to teach this eleven year old girl a lesson.
I witnessed this officer grab an eleven year old, push her against a wall, then violently slam her to the ground. I listened as she cried and pleaded that he let her go. She begged him to let her stand up. She was no match for this adult man. I cringed as I heard other adults outside the frame repeatedly ask the officer to let her up. They told this man that the young lady was not a threat to him because she wasn’t. She was however a threat to his ego. This grown man let a sixth grade girl bruise his ego so bad that he needed to teach her a lesson that will stay with this young lady a lifetime.
As a parent, my heart sank for this young lady. She was obviously having a bad day, which we are all entitled to have. Instead of being allowed to go home and reset her day, she endured what most adults wouldn’t want to endure. I can’t imagine what she was thinking. I pray she is receiving counseling to help her deal with this trauma. My children have resource officers at their schools and let me tell you honey, if any of them came home with this story, I’m gonna need y’all to do a little bit more than send up prayers for me. I am tired of watching video after video of school resource officers taking their frustrations out on our children. I am not that parent that is going to sit around and let anyone mistreat my children.
The same way Officer Christensen was impatient with that young lady is the same impatience that I am giving everyone involved. Here are a few things that I want everyone reading this blog to remember. Once the damage is done to our children, it can’t be undone. They will live with the scars.
Children can be a handful. As a former public school teacher, I can attest to the varying mood swings, the know-it-all attitudes, and the constant need to want to fit in. I remember what it was like to be a child and feel misunderstood. As a teacher, I tried to put myself in my students’ shoes and be a little more understanding. I don’t ever believe that pre teens or even teenagers for that matter have the ability to rationalize as an adult. I can’t expect my eleven year old daughter to have the same logic as a thirty or forty year old adult. It’s just not going to happen. For this reason, our children deserve our patience while they are navigating their feelings and hormones.
I don’t have to give you the statistics and research to tell you that children of color are the primary targets of minor infractions being turned into criminal acts. Our children don’t get the same benefit of the doubt that their caucasian counterparts get. While little Billy is sent to the counselor’s office for a youthful indiscretion, Jamal is arrested and sent to juvenile detention and put into a rehabilitative program. Our children are being turned into criminals for being children. Furthermore, arrests should be the last resort, not the standard for our students. Exposing students of color to the judicial system doesn’t help. Arresting students fo minor infractions typically mean an increase in a minor child’s risk of dropping out of school.
According to research done by CNN, while black students make up about 15% of the more than 50 million students in the US, they account for about a third of the students who experienced a school shooting since 2009. Meanwhile, mostly white schools have more mass shootings, like the ones at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and Sandy Hook Elementary, typically carried out by young white males while school is in session. My children’s blackness is not a weapon. Treating children of color like criminals is not the way to operate our schools. I have yet to see a video of a non minority student treated as a criminal, even after they have opened fire on their fellow classmates. Allowing school resource officers the ability to assault children of color under the guise of school safety has to end.