Online Petition Calls For Employee's Removal

A school is accused of putting a 9-year-old boy who has autism into a duffel bag as punishment. An online petition calling for the dismissal of those responsible collected over 10,000 signatures within the first 24 hours. Did the school have the right to discipline the boy in this manner, and what action should the school district take to correct the situation? Read on!

Duffle bag

On Dec. 14, 9-year-old Christopher Baker's mother, Sandra, heard him calling out to her as she walked to his classroom to pick him up after a troubled morning at school. She was shocked to look down and find his voice coming from a duffel bag on the floor, with its opening cinched shut. Baker's teachers had allegedly elected to place him in what was described to the mother as a therapy bag after they said he smirked at his teacher and threw a ball across the room.

Not the first time

Diagnosed with autism, Chris goes to school at Mercer County Intermediate School in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, where he attends classes designed for children with special needs. His morning went poorly and his mother was called to the school to pick up her son, which is when she discovered him in the bag.

When Baker demanded her son be set free, the teacher's aide struggled to release the drawstring. Chris was sweaty and upset when he emerged. In a meeting with the school a few days later, officials told his mother that this wasn't the first time the boy had been placed in the bag in an attempt to control his autistic behavior and they made no guarantees that it would not happen again.

Online petition

Lydia Brown, an 18-year-old Georgetown University freshman who has autism, started an online petition at change.org after learning about the Bakers' story. "That would not be wrong just for an autistic student," said Brown. "That would be wrong to do to anyone."

"Clearly there is anger over the alleged treatment of this boy, and the growth of this campaign is quite remarkable," said Benjamin Joffe-Walt, director of communications for Change.org, the world's fastest growing online campaigns platform. "Armed with only a laptop and without any funding or support, [Brown] has recruited more than 10,000 supporters in less than 24 hours, with dozens joining every minute. It will be very interesting to see what happens next week."

Moms fire back

Advocates for the autistic and parents everywhere are understandably up in arms over this issue. Ashley, mother of two, stated, "I want to tear legs off and I'm not the kid's parent. Infuriating, disgusting, definitely warrants termination."

Missouri mom Sarah pointed out that this sort of punishment sounds like cruel and unusual treatment to her. "Regardless of who the student was and the student's behavior issues or disability status, this type of treatment would not be allowed by any prison or even our government in regard to convicted offenders of violent crime," she shared.

Debbie from Wisconsin agrees. "I am willing to bet my life on the fact that stuffing a child in a duffel bag does not meet any educational or medical definition of a proper restraint method," she said.

As for the employees responsible? Sarah had this to say. "I refuse to comment about what I would likely have done if it was my child who'd been tortured like this by anyone, let alone the very people I entrust with his safety and required education!"

Tell us

What do you think about the way Christopher Baker was treated? Is it ever acceptable to put a child in a duffle bag?!

More on autism

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The basics of autism: An overview
Keeping your autistic child safe: Practical tips for parents

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Comments

Comments on "Kentucky school reportedly puts autistic boy in duffel bag"

Anna February 14, 2013 | 4:59 PM

I am autistic. Who the heck would do this? My band director would never make me climb into a cello case to control my autistic behavior. That's not discipline. It is downright base to do such a thing. Reply if you agree or disagree.

Linda January 18, 2012 | 2:55 PM

I am a teacher's aide for an autistic boy, and this is so just apalling. This needs to be stopped so another child never has to suffer like this poor little boy!!!

idiots!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! January 18, 2012 | 12:08 PM

The woman should be stuffed in a duffel bag herself, and this is what is teaching our kids today?????? She needs to be stuffed and wacked with a freakin ruler this dumb stupid b@#$%^&.

Heather January 05, 2012 | 6:04 PM

im an aunt of an autistic lil boy.. and i raise him.. and let me tell you... this wouldnt have been up for discuss because i would have killed the s that did this within a blink of an eye.. the HEAD LINES would of been ANGRY PARENT GOES ON RAMPAGE AFTER FIND CHILD IN A DUFFLE BAG.. THE teachers should be fired... no longer allowed to be around children they should be charged with assult.. attemped murder.. and child abuse.. come one now if that was a parent doing that to their child they would have been in jail already. this is bull ---- and also unacceptable.. I am signing this petition without any questions... kudos to the 18 yr old that started this :)

Mandy January 05, 2012 | 6:49 AM

This has made me, a mother of 3 children, 9,6 and 2 very upset. NO, child regardless of abilities should be treated in this HORRIBLE manner. If this is how teachers are being taught to discipline our children,they need NOT to be teaching. I believe that you treat people the way you would like to be treated. WE as parents are OUR childrens voices not manner the situation. This teacher should not be teaching period.. and should be punished and put in a duffle bag and left for someone to find, like trash on Friday. God Bless Chris and his family.

Danielle January 04, 2012 | 7:05 PM

As a teacher for students with autism this story seems hard to believe. I have been injured (two broken noses) by my students on several occations. We have a resolution room but it must be on a child's IEP as part of their behavior plan to be placed there and the behavior plan must be followed to the exactly. At times a child can be acting out to such a degree where they are a danger to others and be placed there but the parent is notified. A bag with out a way for the child to get out seems not right. I have placed weighted blankets on students for calming. I also did have a box but students could not be sent there the choice was theirs and they did because they enjoyed being enclosed in and having less sensory simulation. I have seen OT use a body bag for children to help with sensory but it looks nothing like a duffel bag. I wonder if this is what was used. It can help calm some children but should not be used as punishment or a way of handling a child who is having a melt down. (A melt down is a child who is screaming, kicking hitting and/or throwing objects)

donna b January 03, 2012 | 4:04 PM

had this happened to one of my kids or my grandkids that teacher would have carried her a whipping before i left that school a man where i am from recently abused a dog and he was arrested and sent to prison if you will fight for a dog why not fight for a child i would sue the school and maybee another child wont have to go through this mr. president what ever happened to no child left behind you just left one behind

kel January 03, 2012 | 12:49 PM

the comments on here somehow rationalizing this behavior are disgusting. My father was a public school teacher for 35 years and had a ton of really horribly behaved kids. NEVER would he have treated a child, however bad, like this. And if he had, the school district would have had his head! I too, taught in a public school and while I was ready to throw a couple of kids out the window a few times, never would such a thing as this cross my mind. I'm tired of the stereotypes put on kids with autism. My 13 year old has asperger's and we homeschool all four of our kids. He is the sweetest of my four kids, the most helpful and extremely bright. He just needs guidance in certain areas. He now has a couple of friends he likes to hang out with and he learns in his own style at his own pace. He's always the peacemaker around here - he will step in and do his siblings chores to avoid me fighting with them to do it, etc. He always puts his younger siblings needs before his own. If he were in school, I'm sure he would be thrashed by the other kids because of his sweet nature. Kudos to this mom for taking the step of homeschooling. Kids with autism/asperger's just need to learn in different ways --being crammed into a noisy classroom with 25 other kids isn't the answer. Our public school system is disgusting - just a few weeks ago, we read of the mentally disabled girl who was verbally abused by her teacher and her parents wired her to record it. I believe that teacher got off with "sensitivity" training about bullying. Nice. Of course, she has strongest union in the country in her corner. When our teachers have to go for lessons on how to not bully, what has school become??

Miss Mac in TX January 02, 2012 | 4:19 PM

The duffel bag is NOT acceptable as a form of discipline. Period. EVER. For any child. Neither is stuffing an autistic child into a dark, locked closet (yeah, saw that one used). Remember Mike Leach, the Texas Tech football coach that got canned for allowing Adam James, the son of the ESPN commentator, to sit "someplace dark" and had him go sit in an electrical storage room, with supervision, because he did not dress out for practice after being treated for concussion. The younger James made a YouTube video with his phone about the experience and everything about the incident was twisted into untruths that resulted in uproar and the coach being fired. Gee, that is a normal, smartass, grown young man being a diva...and he is "so abused". Well, that was good enough to fire Mike Leach, so why not fire everyone involved in this bad decision with a 9 yr old in a public school, someone who could not simply walk away if he had wanted to!

Samantha December 30, 2011 | 6:05 PM

To Pirinola. The child has autism which is what you really have problems with when it comes to one that you know of at your child's school. Other kids bully and do the same thing but if they aren't described of with autism or anything of the such, nobody ever says take that child to a different school. I'm doubting your story because you're just another person who associates autism with Rainman which shows your ignorance. Most autistics are not bullies. The fact that you are acting as if all autistics must be bullies since you once thought all autistics were like Rainman just shows you are probably making up a story just to put your own prejudice spin on autism. If the kid with autism was in fact being that way, he would have been yanked out of the classroom and put in special ed. Children without autism who do the same thing are not yanked out of the classroom. People just have a problem with difference.

Samantha December 30, 2011 | 6:02 PM

Tired of all these torture methods being used on children and them stamping the autistic label as an excuse. People are very prejudice against autistics and it should stop. MOST autistics are not in fact bullies, they are the ones being abused and bullied. I have seen children without autism throwing balls, throwing spit wads, tossing their desks and they did not have a label. Not a single person abused that child. This is a classic case of discrimination.

pirinola December 29, 2011 | 9:25 AM

I don't agree with putting him to a bag, but there is a few facts about autism. I used to thought about people with autism that they might be like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. We moved to Canada, and my son started school here. There is two kids in his school with autism, one of them unfortunatelly in his class. The boy is a big time bully, he also found out, that he can get away with many things he does, because he is "special". And always picks on smaller kids. Another day 2 teachers had to pull him away from a boy who he was beating badly. My son is terrified, and he can't be himself in class, because he is worried that he will make the autism boy angry, as it happened before. I had to talk with the principal about it, and other parents also did. Hitting the kids, and calling them in names, that is what he does every day, and I am angry, why doesn't he goes to a different school. The other boy in his school is the same, and my (otherwise very good student) son comes home from school, that his day was bad again because of that boy, I feel like I want to put that boy in a bag.

Jennifer December 28, 2011 | 6:22 AM

Not justifying what she did, but my SD has sensory problems and there are special bags and blankets used for that purpose. Not saying the tool was used properly in this case, or anything like that, but these things do help some children. Also, how is it that so very many children are diagnosed with Autism? I'm not saying it isn't real, but I do think Autism and ADD/ADHD are overdiagnosed by schools and doctors when they don't want to actually find out what's going on with a child- or the parents don't want to teach them to behave properly. I know I'm going to get slammed for that comment, but I don't care. I've dedicated my time to teaching my kids how to act and it shows, even with an extremely active son. Teachers can't devote a lot of time to one student. In my kids school, when special needs children are in regular classes, they have an aide (who works with them and their families full-time), to help so the teacher is not solely responsible for them. As for classroom aides, many are parent volunteers or working for minimum wage, so expecting them to have that training is ridiculous- they are there to help the teacher be able to give every child some individual attention, not to either distract the special child or pick up the slack from the teacher when a special child is being difficult. I like how my kids school handles it, allowing the people who are trained- and who are there specifically for that child, and paid to deal with everything that entails- to handle it, while the teacher is responsible for the class overall and, heaven forbid, actually teaching the whole class.

m December 28, 2011 | 3:06 AM

Wow, This is incredibly disturbing and truly uncalled for! The school or schools that do this should be sued! Regardless of the children's disabilities or diagnoses it's also a form of child abuse!!!

Teah December 27, 2011 | 9:03 PM

While I do believe disciplinary action should be upon the teacher, I also believe her supervisors should also be disciplined. The school staff should be educated to the correct way to treat all children. Then, they should be closely monitored - to make sure they treat the students in a correct manner. There are so many public schools who treat disabled children poorly - but they do it with their supervisors' support. Everyone involved - from the teacher to the superintendent - should be held responsible.

HighPlainsMom December 27, 2011 | 7:11 PM

As the mother of an autistic son, I can only come up with four words for the "teachers": Special Place in Hell

Cecille Chan December 27, 2011 | 1:19 PM

Whoa! And I thought I immigrated to a civilized country. My heart goes out to the kid and the kid's family. I certainly hope this is not tolerated as an acceptable method of dealing with autistic children.

JD December 27, 2011 | 12:45 PM

Why is there even a question about whether this treatment is EVER acceptable? Try going to a mall or anywhere with several people present and stuffing a child into a duffel bag. What do you think would happen?!! The police would be called right away! Charges would almost definitely be laid and I bet a few people would want to beat the daylights out of the perpetrator. Come on people! This is child abuse in one of its most obvious forms! Get this so called teacher charged and dismissed for starters and investigate the school personnel. Shut the school down in the meantime for the safety of the other students.

Conrad Wetzel December 27, 2011 | 12:23 PM

I, also, believe this teacher should be fired with strong condemnatory comments. She should never be hired in any school system without thorough retraining in best ways to handle difficult classroom situations. Her teaching files should contain complete documentation of her outragious conduct. Every teacher in the school should receive training on how best to handle discipling problems.

Gina-Marie Cheeseman December 27, 2011 | 12:17 PM

Charges need to be filed against the teacher who put the boy in a duffel bag. I wonder why charges are not being filed.

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