Texas Special Needs Children Deserve Better
Recent body camera footage was released by Denton, Texas showing a 10-year-old autistic boy being physically restrained and handcuffed by a school resource officer. The video was release after the parents filed a child abuse complaint with Child Protective Services when their child came home with bruises and other injuries.
Texas law permits staff members and school resource officers (i.e., police officers) to physically restrain special needs students if there is a threat of serious harm or property damage to themselves or others. However, as you can see from the video the student did not at the time pose any threat to anyone or anything. Moreover, this is a ten-year-old who doesn't pose much of a threat to a trained law enforcement officer.
While the school and police department claim the child was poking other classmates and swinging a computer mouse by the cord, this wasn't captured on video. So at the time he was retrained, which the video captures, he posed absolutely no immediate threat.
Autistic children can be difficult at times for school staff to deal with, especially when they are having a meltdown, but it is never acceptable to physically assault a special needs child no matter the circumstances. School staff and police officers should be properly trained to deal with children with autism, so they can respond to behavioral issues with the appropriate response. Parents put great trust in schools to make sure their child is safe and treated well, never should parents need to worry that their autistic child might receive physical abuse if he/she doesn't cooperate with staff.
Please contact us at Exceptional Learners to see how we can train school district staff and law enforcement agencies to appropriately deal with autistic children. Contact us to today to schedule an initial consultation.