The ACLU has filed a federal lawsuit in response to a video which shows a deputy from the Kenton County Sheriff’s Office handcuffing a disabled elementary school child to restrain him.
Deputy sheriff Kevin Sumner handcuffed two children, an 8-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl. The video shows Sumner cuffing the boy as he tells him, “You don’t get to swing at me like that.”
“Ow that hurts!” cries out the boy.
It is unclear what specific behavior led to the children being restrained, but the ACLU asserts that for school officials, including police officers, to use handcuffs on children is illegal.
The children are so small that the officer had to handcuff them around their biceps rather than their wrists. Both of the children have ADHD and other disabilities.
The lawsuit charges that the actions of the officer caused the children trauma and pain. It also names names Kenton County Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn, accusing him of failing to adequately train and supervise Sumner.
According to the boy’s mother, he is now suffering from anxiety, sleeping problems and is afraid to go back to school for fear of seeing Sumner.
“Shackling children is not okay. It is traumatizing, and in this case it is also illegal,” said Susan Mizner, disability counsel for the ACLU. “Using law enforcement to discipline students with disabilities only serves to traumatize children. It makes behavioral issues worse and interferes with the school’s role in developing appropriate educational and behavioral plans for them.”
The ACLU also charges that treating children with behavioral difficulties like prisoners at such a young age makes it more likely that they will be “funneled out of public schools and into the criminal justice system.”
The video obviously raises the question of why police officers are being used to discipline such young children. Surely it must be left to teachers and other school staff to perform such duties without needing to involve law enforcement officers?