Here We Go Again

Monday, October 26, 2015

Although it is currently 3AM in the United Kingdom, I feel like I cannot go to sleep without expressing my thoughts on the video I just watched. Before I make commentary on the video, I'm going to link it here, but here is a warning that it is quite difficult to watch.

As someone who has worked in schools for years, this is wrong on so many levels.

Firstly, the issue that we have an adult male cop using extreme force on a young teenage girl who was not hostile or violent. This is another in a long line of police brutality cases that I think shows a
Database of fatal cop shootings in 2015
systematic issue within the police force community. There is obviously something going wrong in your training when these instances keep happening over and over again.

I have already seen people saying "well we don't know what she did, maybe she deserved it". At what point does anyone deserve to be thrown to the ground? She could have said the most terrible things to the cop, the teacher, the other students; that does not mean her fundamental right to be safe on school property should be infringed upon. She clearly had no weapons, no voices were raised, she was calm even if she was defiant. There is a difference between defiance and hostility, and defiance is not grounds for excessive force.

I have no doubt in my mind that the officer will be fired and the school board will say what it needs to say to make the situation better, but firing cops who get caught acting out on camera isn't going to fix the overlying issue of police brutality in the United States. 

Just hours after the video surfaced, it is already a
worldwide trending topic. Many protestors for race
issues use the site for awareness.
On another level, this is also a race issue. Before you start screaming that every time this happens "someone makes it about race" I want you to hear me out. I think the important thing to remember is 
that in the United States we are seeing a higher percentage of these cases surrounding police brutality on people of color. The point is that yes, if this was a white girl it would still be just as important, but the fact that it is yet another person of color in a long line of people of color who have been systematically attacked is just further proving a point that there is a wider issue in the United States concerning race issues that needs to be addressed. I'm not going to seriously delve into issue of race because it is not my place to speak for people of color. I will say that in my opinion, their concerns are completely valid and we should all be more open minded about hearing what they have to say about their experiences and fears living in the United States.

Lastly, and this is an issue that I think is a widely different perspective than most people will have: that officer should not have been in that classroom to begin with. In that situation where the teacher is frustrated and a student is stepping out of line but not violent, the school counselor or psychologist should have been called to talk to her. She was sitting in her desk, no weapons, no violent threat, which is what the officers are on campus to handle specifically. Counselors are trained professionals that already work with many of the "problem" students and are trained to handle students who don't want to conform or follow the rules. Calling an officer who had no prior knowledge of the situation only serves for them to assume it was a violent or hostile situation from the start.

I don't know why the officer was called, but from my experience teachers tend to call the officers when they can't be bothered to deal with a student anymore. In my opinion that is unprofessional and lazy. I understand if a student is being frustrating, but you should have more avenues to use before calling a police officer into the situation. Their purpose at the school is to protect the students from danger, not be your back up behavior management system.

And some people will make the completely valid point- not all schools have counselors and psychologists on site. Many low funded schools wouldn't have the resources, and even if they do have a counselor they may not be adequately trained to deal with these situations. To them I say, this is an education issue just as much as it is a police brutality and race issue. Our schools are seriously underfunded and the students are paying the price here. Professionally speaking, a school is supposed to at the very least have a trained counselor on site at all times. Obviously not all the information has been released regarding the case, but if the option for a more moderate approach before contacting the police officer was not available, that is exemplifying a larger issue within our school systems that needs to be addressed. 

As this is a current new story that will be unfolding with new information over the next few days, I will add additions, opinions, and referendums under this line.

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