First there were the cops in Colorado earlier this month who pepper sprayed a second grader to calm him down, and now comes New York’s finest in Queens who handcuffed a first-grader after he had a meltdown over Easter eggs.
Joseph Anderson, 7, is a special education student at Public School 153 in Maspeth. On April 13th, he was taken away in metal cuffs despite the fact that his mom informed school officials she was on her way to pick him up. Officials say the measure was taken in an effort to protect Anderson and his classmates.
Anderson was upset in class because the color of the Easter eggs he was decorating didn’t come out the way he had imagined. He suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, delayed speech and emotional problems. School staff threatened to send him to the hospital if he didn’t calm down over the eggs.
The school called Anderson’s mom to tell her he wasn’t having a good day, which is when she said she’d come pick him up. Only she didn’t get there fast enough.
Upon hearing the threat to be sent to the hospital from his teachers, Anderson got scared, jumped on the tables and said, “I just want my mommy.”
In a statement, the New York Police Department said he was “acting in a threatening manner,” and a source also told the New York Daily News he was waving scissors.
“He was a danger to himself and others in the classroom,” an NYPD spokesman said. “He started spitting and cursing at the officers. The handcuffs were used to restrain the child because of his behavior. He was a danger to himself.”
His mom said that since the incident, Anderson has been wetting himself in the middle of the day and throwing up.
“If he hears an ambulance, he runs under the bed and screams, ‘They’re going to get me,’” she told the newspaper. “He’s really traumatized. I don’t let him watch the news anymore, because if he sees cops, he cries.”
The Easter egg incident marked the third time the school sent Joseph to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. He was also suspended from school for two weeks over this most recent incident.
Last year a 12-year-old, also in Queens, was handcuffed for doodling on her desk, and a few years ago, a 5-year-old was handcuffed for misbehaving in his kindergarten class.
I wasn’t in the classroom so it’s hard for me to speculate on the incident, but I think it’s really sad that the various authority figures who were there couldn’t have diffused the situation sufficiently until the boy’s mom showed up at school. Clearly he has problems, but being treated like that in school shouldn’t have to be one of them.
Do you think teachers and law enforcement officials have become too aggressive, or have kids become increasingly unmanageable?