Police pepper spray child at school
There is a difference between corporal punishment at school and using physical restraint with a student who presents a danger to others. Most states have banned swats and other forms of physical discipline by educators. But breaking up a fight or pacifying an out-of-control student is a common occurrence. All states authorize intervention by staff and faculty to prevent personal injury or property damage.
Consider the case of 8-year old Aidan Elliott. He is in a program for children with behavior problems at Glennon Heights Elementary School in Colorado. The police had been called to the school on two previous occasions and succeeded in calming him down.
In February, 2011, they were again called to the school. Aidan had thrown a TV and chairs in his classroom. He was trying to use a cart to break through a door where the teacher and classmates fled for safety. When the police arrived, Aidan was holding a foot-long piece of wood trim and a cardboard box in his other hand. “Come get me, f__kers” he yelled. When they failed at calming the child down, the police squirted Aidan with pepper spray. He deflected it with the cardboard, but a second squirt sent him to the floor.
Aidan’s mother was called to the school. When Aidan told her he had been hit with pepper spray, she reportedly said “Well, you probably deserved it.” However, within a short time, Aidan and his mother were on TV claiming the police action was excessive. The officers commented that either they or Aidan could have been seriously injured if they had resorted to a hands-on approach.
Do you think the police were wrong in using pepper spray in this situation? Why or why not? Since they knew Aidan from earlier encounters, didn’t they know his capability to act out further and injure someone? Did the police show restraint in not using a Taser-gun to stop him?