Thursday, January 31, 2013

APS being sued over the handcuffing of students.

In the Journal this morning, link, a report on students being handcuffed and APS (tax payers) being sued over it.

I have no personal knowledge in any of the cases in question.

I do have a perspective developed over a third of a century of close attention to similar students in similar situations.

A question is begged; how young is too young handcuff?
Is an 18 year old student too young to handcuff?  A 17 year old, a 16 year old, a 6 year old?

Like any law based on chronological age and ignoring the myriad of more influential factors than age, it is fundamentally flawed.  We use age because it is convenient; readily determined, not because it really means much of anything on an individual basis.

It's worth pointing out that handcuffs are absolutely appropriately used on any student of any age, if there is no better choice available.

Handcuffs are a tool.  It is up to the police officer to decide if it is the right tool at the right time.  In the heat of the moment, we have to depend upon professional judgment to determine if the situation dictates using handcuffs.  Policy cannot be written that covers all cases; at some point it has to be left up to the discretion of the professional in the thick of it.

That said, I don't remember watching one of my own classmates ever being arrested.  I don't remember a classmate telling a teacher or the principal, no.  At least not in elementary school or junior high.

The question of age "at cuffing" is a red herring.  The real question is why are we having to handcuff them at all?  How has it come to that?

The handcuffing of students of any age, is a manifestation of an underlying problem; a bigger problem than the age at which we start handcuffing them.

Students are growing increasingly harder to control.
Adults in schools have lost, are losing, will continue to lose
any authority they might have over students and their behavior at school.

That is the problem we need to address.

The handcuffing thing will take care of itself.

That is the problem the leadership of the APS has not, will not, and cannot adress, not while at the same time they are hiding it.

The more  teachers and other adults at schools lose authority over children they supervise, the more students we will be obliged to handcuff, and the younger they are going to be.

submitted, Letters to the Editors, upon posting

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