Recently I was at a playground and there was a kid, who could not have been older than four, who was swearing not unlike a sailor. Freely using the f-word and the s-word, the young child had the vernacular of a middle-aged barfly. It was shocking to hear, especially to someone like me who has never, not once, sworn in front of a child (I wrote about my impressive feat in a piece entitled Swearing: When Dumb Is the Worst Word My Kid Knows). But other parents aren’t so cautious with their language and use of insults; an extreme case of this was provided courtesy of the Omaha Police Officers Association in Nebraska.
On Wednesday, officials from the Omaha police department’s Child Victim Unit and the Nebraska Child Protective Services removed a toddler (and three other children) from a home where not only was colorful language liberally used, but — as the Omaha police put it — a “cycle of violence and thuggery,” was being promoted.
The police had stumbled upon a video posted on a local “thug’s” Facebook page of a diaper-wearing toddler using shockingly inappropriate language and at one point flipping off the camera. The adults, who traded insults with the toddler, seemed completely amused by the young boy’s behavior. After the boy and the other children were taken into custody, the Omaha Police Officers Association (Omaha POA) posted the video on their website. Basically they were making an example, a shocking example, of this young child. They soon came under fire for making what could be construed as an act of racial profiling, coming under the radar of the ACLU. But they defended their sharing of the video saying:
“The focus here isn’t on any particular ethnic group. The focus here is on the troubling behavior towards this child,” Sgt. John Wells, the union’s president, said. “This behavior is going to potentially lead this child down a path that is completely unhealthy.”
So the question that popped in to my mind immediately was, Why would they share this video with the world? Seriously, why?
“We here at OmahaPOA.com viewed the video and we knew that despite the fact that it is sickening, heartbreaking footage, we have an obligation to share it to continue to educate the law abiding public about the terrible cycle of violence and thuggery that some young innocent children find themselves helplessly trapped in,” the police union wrote.
And while the use of language is not a criteria to remove a child from a home (and if it was, there would be oodles of kids pulled from their family’s abodes), the police felt the video demonstrated, “safety concerns,” regarding the children’s well-being.
“Now while we didn’t see anything in this video that is blatantly ‘illegal,’ we sure did see a lot that is flat out immoral and completely unhealthy for this little child from a healthy upbringing standpoint,” they added.
But here’s the thing, anyone who watches the video will see that this is not an appropriate way to interact with a child and that there should be some kind of intervention, but it is the fact that the Omaha Police Officers Association tackled this topic publicly that gets my goat.
I understand that the police want to send a message that they will not tolerate this kind of parenting, but to use this toddler as an example oversteps their responsibility in keeping their citizens safe. Yes, the video is shocking and a wake-up call to many, but by distributing it, it is nothing short of child exploitation. CNN shared the video, but they had the courtesy to blur out the child’s face, the Omaha POA did not take that step.
Watch it here and decide for yourself:
What do you think? Do you believe that there was a good motive for the police to share this video or do you think they should have taken more care to protect the young boy, not just from the environment that he is in, but from being thrown into the public spotlight like this?
Photo Source: MorgueFile