When I think about problems that young children encounter, one that does not make my list is being arrested at school and held for almost 12 hours at a police station. However, this scenario happened in the neighborhood of Morrell Park in Baltimore just over a week ago. Two eight year old girls, and one nine year old boy were arrested at school for assaulting other students.
This incident shocked me. Not only because of the gravity of the situation, but because of the mental image of very young children in handcuffs.
According to Maryland law, students shouldn’t be arrested at school when possible. Young children certainly shouldn’t be handcuffed either. If a child is arrested, their parents or guardians need to be notified immediately. This didn’t happen in Morrell Park, where caretakers weren’t notified for several hours.
This incident points to even larger issues, such as violence among children. I wonder how the violence escalated to such a high level without someone noticing and/or something being done to prevent it. Also, we know that children learn behavior from others. Although not universally the norm, but widely a fact, children who are violent often grow up in a family or community where violence occurs regularly or where something is going on to trigger this violence.
We as members of communities and residents of Maryland need to make these important issues our own priorities. When someone else’s child is involved in violence and is involved in the criminal justice system, it should be a concern to all of us. It takes a village...
Anti-bullying presentations done by police and conferences are clearly not enough as seen in Morrell Park. We need to expand our efforts to include other tools, so that children live free of violence and can communicate their feelings and problems verbally instead of physically.
Police response should be seen as a last resort for violence between very young children.