Putting primary aged pupils in handcuffs for bad behaviour in school has been deemed to be ‘excessive force’ in the USA, as a federal judge ruled that restraining pupils this way as an unnecessary reaction to bad behaviour.
Reported in the Washington Post, The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit against a Kentucky sheriff for handcuffing two children with disabilities for misbehaving in school. The released video shows Kevin Sumner, a Kenton County sheriff’s deputy, handcuffing an eight-year-old boy behind his back. The article reports that school police officers have been scrutinised in recent years for the role they have played in enforcing order in schools. School police officers say they help keep schools safe, but critics say that some use brutal tactics to deal with school discipline matters, criminalising routine misbehaviour. The article also reports that in the USA, according to federal data, school personnel or police officers mechanically restrained nearly 6,000 students in the 2013-2014 school year, the latest year for which such data is available. Nearly 33 percent of them were special education students, even though that group represented only 14 percent of student enrollment that school year.
In this case, and according to court documents, school personnel summoned the sheriff’s deputy after the boy, identified as S.R. in the lawsuit, had disrupted class, run away from the principal and kicked a special-education teacher. School staff videotaped the encounter between Sumner and the boy, who was 4 feet tall and 54 pounds.
“You don’t get to swing at me like that,” Sumner told the boy, as he placed the ring of the cuffs on the boy’s skinny biceps. He cinched the chain between the cuffs tighter, forcing the boy’s arms together behind his back. “You can do what we ask you to do, or suffer the consequences.”
“Ow! That hurts!” the boy yelled. He continued to cry and squirm in the chair, kicking his feet.