On this past Thursday, at a local charter school in Orlando, Florida, a 6 year old girl was handcuffed, arrested, put in a police car, finger printed, had a mugshot, and jailed – over a tantrum she had in class.
It’s despicable. I spoke with experts this weekend who said that the United States may be the only nation in the world were such a thing would ever happen.
We just learned they did the same thing to another 6 year old on the same day.
This morning I’ve got several new updates to share on this case and I want to give us some context for how big this problem truly is.
The United States is the incarceration nation. Our nation has been so criminalized, and it’s so fully baked into thousands and thousands of systems – that we have now reached a point where school systems are fully permitting police officers to arrest and charge 6 year old girls with crimes for behaviors that should’ve received a note sent home or a simple call to her parents.
The officer in this case, Dennis Turner, of the Orlando, Florida Police Department, was partly to blame and we just learned last night that he was fired from the Orlando Police Department. We also learned that the local District Attorney dropped all of the bogus charges again against these babies.
But I have to keep it real. I blame this charter school, Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy, and all of their administrators, for allowing such a thing to happen. Let me be clear. Not only as a parent to five children, but as a spouse of a woman who taught elementary school for 16 years, and as a trained school teacher myself, as easy as this is to put off on the officer, this is a major failure of this school, of the teacher, of the front office staff, of the principal, and even of the entire Orlando City Schools system.
What’s happening here is exactly what we see happening in all types of facets of society. Police officers and police departments are being used as contractors for work they have no skill or training for. This officer, Dennis Turner, not only has a history of beating children and adults alike, he’s not an educator. He has not been trained on the psychological development of children. He has not been trained on behavioral management. And that the school co-signed this man arresting, handcuffing, and jailing a 6 year old girl and another 8 year old child is a complete failure on the part of the school.
The police department is saying that officers are supposed to get permission from a supervisor for the arrest of children under 12, but here’s the thing – this never should’ve been allowed to happen. Shame on every administrator there who could and should’ve intervened before you allowed this child to experience an arrest.
But this is what we see all over the nation – in our school systems and with our mental health systems – where police officers are being used for school behavioral problems and mental health problems and ultimately end up arresting, brutalizing, and sometimes even murdering people who didn’t even need to be in contact with the police.
Call the police if you have an active shooter. But when a 6 year old girl has a behavior problem, the police don’t even need to be anywhere near that situation. EVER.
And before I ever saw a picture of this child, ask me how I knew she was black?
Black children were 7x more likely to be sent home or referred to the police for identical behaviors of white children.
Studies found that black girls are six times as likely to be suspended as white girls.
Young black girls make up less than 20% of all young girls in America’s schools, but are 54% of the girls receiving the harshest punishments in schools.
And here’s what happens. These young Black girls are then an astounding 10x more likely to go to jail or prison as adults because of the way they were treated as children. And of course they are. This poor young baby already has a mugshot. Already has had her fingerprints taken. Has already been put in handcuffs. She has already suffered criminalization.
And it not only damages her – it has criminalized her in front of all of her peers.
This is enough.
And it leads me to our action steps for today.
Today I have 3 action steps for our listeners.
Let’s let this school, and this school district know how we feel, OK
- Call the Orlando School System office and let them know you want them to change their policy on the arrest of children in their school system. 317.3200
- Let’s call the Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy and let them know that they have failed these students and these families by allowing their students to be arrested and sent to jail. Call them today @ 407-412-6968. The principal there is Melanie Harp. Ask to speak to her or an administrator.
- Lastly, I’d like for you to call your local school system and let me know what you find out. What are their policies on the arrest of children?