Elementary school is supposed to be an exciting time filled with recess, field trips and learning about multiplication tables. But for one Missouri boy, the joyful elementary experience was clouded by a nightmarish incident with a school resource officer. The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the district after a police officer allegedly put a 7-year-old boy in handcuffs because he was “disrupting” his class.
Kalyb Wiley Primm was in second grade at a Kansas City school when a police officer handcuffed him for crying in class after being bullied. According to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU this week, the officer was walking by Kalyb’s classroom and heard him crying and being “disruptive.” Rather than approach the situation with kindness and sensitivity, the officer allegedly put the 7-year-old in handcuffs and walked him to the front office to wait for his mom.
Tomesha Primm, Kalyb’s mom, says the incident terrified her son. He started having nightmares and wetting the bed. Eventually, she was forced to pull him out of school out of fear for his safety. Now, the family is speaking out about the unfair, overly aggressive treatment of their little boy, and is suing both the school district and the officer for violating Kalyb’s right to freedom from “unreasonable seizures and excessive force.”
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It can’t be easy for the Primm family to relive their ordeal, but their lawsuit is an important step in making sure what happened to Kalyb never happens to another child in their district. There is simply no excuse for putting a 7-year-old child in handcuffs, and it’s alarming that this particular officer escalated the situation to such a terrifying extent. Any second-grader would be absolutely traumatized by the experience of being handcuffed by a policeman, and an officer who regularly works with children should know better.
As parents, we send our kids to school expecting they’ll be treated with kindness and respect. We expect that, regardless of the situation, the people interacting with our kids will do so in a positive way. More than anything, we expect that the people in charge of our children will be trained to work with them, to discipline them fairly, to help them solve their problems and to create an environment that makes them feel safe and valued.
A second-grader has no capacity to be a menace or a threat. Kalyb was being bullied, and he was expressing his emotions. He needed to be heard and soothed, not handcuffed. What happened to him was devastating and dehumanizing, and an officer who treats a crying second-grader like a criminal has no business working with kids.
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