Home > Uncategorized > 7-Year Old Boy Handcuffed after a Temper Tantrum

7-Year Old Boy Handcuffed after a Temper Tantrum

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black World – Scholarship in Action 

A 7-year old special ed student became upset while decorating an easter egg, and ended up being handcuffed by the NYPD as a result.  Joseph Anderson, a first-grader, was taken to the hospital in metal handcuffs by the police, in spite of the fact that his mother said she was on her way to pick him up.

"He was crying and saying, ‘I want Mommy,’" said his mother, Jessica Anderson. "Why handcuff him? Why get the cops involved? He’s only 7."

According to his mother, Joseph has been wetting himself and vomiting since the incident, which took place on April 13. 

"If he hears an ambulance, he runs under the bed and screams, ‘They’re going to get me,’" said his mother. "He’s really traumatized. I don’t let him watch the news anymore, because if he sees cops, he cries."

City Education Department officials claim that they handcuffed the boy to protect his classmates.

"The school tried to defuse the situation and then called for outside assistance when there was a concern the child would harm himself or others," said department spokeswoman Marge Feinberg.

Apparently, the boy became upset because his easter egg didn’t come out the color that he wanted.  That’s when he began to get upset, calling for his mother.  He was then cuffed and taken to the hospital.

"I was crying. I broke down," she said. "They know that my son is special ed. It’s like they’re trying to get rid of him, and it worked because I’m not sending him back there."

The NYPD has argued that the boy was “acting in a threatening manner,” and another source said that he was waving scissors.

"He was a danger to himself and others in the classroom," according to an NYPD spokesman. "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."

My thoughts on the Joseph Anderson case are the following:

1) How often do we hear about white kids being handcuffed at the age of seven?  Perhaps it is the dehumanization of black males which leads us to believe that somehow we are less innocent during our childhood or that we are somehow accustomed to the trauma of being handled by the police at an early age.  Much of the racism that exists in America could be mitigated if the world would simply realize that black boys are human too.

2) Are we expected to believe that a police officer couldn’t handle a child without cuffing him? I presume that most police officers are stronger than children, so one might expect that after calming the child down, they could have taken him to the hospital without using handcuffs.

3) This story can’t be disconnected from the bigger picture.  The United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any country in the world.  The citizens subject to this incarceration are disproportionately African American males. This institutionalization of black boys starts at an early age, when far too many of us (including myself) are diagnosed as having hyperactive attention deficit disorder, placed in special classes and then taken away in handcuffs when we get into a fight or argue with the teacher.  It all starts at an early age, and this episode represents society’s goal of turning 7-year old Joseph Anderson into a statistic.

We should all be repulsed by this incident.

 

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. 

 

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. April 21, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    you forgot the part where they said the 7 year old was cursing really!! i dont know of any 7 yr olds that curse like that to the point where a cop cant restrain the child . i’ve seen cops put down a big guy weighting over 300 pounds without handcuffing ..so now they cant handle a 7 year old YEAH RIGHT!

  2. Tracey
    April 22, 2011 at 2:18 am

    This story makes me so sick!!! And it is indicative of the bigger picture.

  3. April 22, 2011 at 3:16 am

    What a horrible experience for a child to go through! I could only imagine how traumatized he must be after this. It seems as though the police like to criminalize youth, even if they are seven years of age. This is definitely sickening, and upsetting knowing that the police often seem to have poor judgment, and actually looked to try and justify their actions behind handcuffing a little boy. So he was throwing a little tantrum…he’s a kid. The police had no right to treat that little boy like a crook, criminal, or menace to society. He is a child, and sadly, this horrible experience will be with him for the rest of his life. Those people who wear those “to serve and protect” badges need to do better! They need to stop abusing their power, and actually do their jobs properly…

    There is no way for them to justify their actions! The police were wrong for cuffing this child!

  4. Victoria
    April 22, 2011 at 3:23 am

    Schools are ill equipped to manage children that present wih challenging behaviors. Someone on staff should have the skills needed to descalate these types of situations and if not them a police officer should have been able to calm the child. Instead they end up traumatizing a young boy and his family. Cuffing a baby? That family needs to sue the pants off that school system.

  5. Lettie Barge
    April 22, 2011 at 11:43 am

    BEING THAT THE SCHOOL MADE CONTACT WITH THE STUDENT MOTHER, AND SHE WAS ON HER WAY TO PICK UP HER
    SON, WHY WAS IT NECESSARY TO GET THE POLICE INVOLVED? THE OTHER STUDENTS COULD HAVE BEEN REMOVED FROM THE CLASS ROOM FOR THEIR SAFETY, IF THEY WERE IN DANGER. THIS WAS AN HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE FOR ALL OF THE STUDENTS WHO WERE AN EYE WITNESS. THE TEACHER THAT WAS IN THE CLASS ROOM THAT DAY, IF SHE OR HE WAS THIS STUDENT DAILY INSTRUCTOR, SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO CONTROL THE UPSET STUDENT.

  6. April 22, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    You can thank full inclusion for the police being called. Why should other innocent children and a teacher who probably did not answer for Special education students to be dumped into her class with all the other behavioral medicated children be forced to tolerate these kids everyday with outburst, cursing, etc.
    Everyone says poor kid but are you or your kids forced to be in a classroom with these kids who belong in a self contained Special education classroom. It is so sad that other students who do not live in homes who use these words are forced to hear his unadultrated conversation. These students can only be suspended or sent home ten days out of the year. These kids consume more of the teachers time then any other student. Most teachers do not have a Resource Teacher or Special Educator and are forced to tolerate these horrible ill mannered, medicated children who know they can hit, spit, curse whatever and the other children have to be subjected to it. The behavior is in their plan so put a check and come up with ways to deal with it.
    Yes, call the police and make the parent come to school and sit with the ill mannered child. He should be at a school that deals with his behavior. Many low income parents state oh no medication so their child is out of control and they expect the school to deal with a kid who is out of control.
    White parents will medicate their child so they can learn and they wean the child off in high school. If Black parents want their children to learn then take the diagnosis from the child and use the medication. Don’t allow your child to go through school destroying the classroom and then in jail blaming the system.
    Parents should be sued or the child turned over to the courts and forced to medicate so others can learn. Keep calling the police because the other students have the right to learn without that bad child disrupting the learning environment. Fine the parents too. She was on her way is what they all say and show up a day later or perhaps the end of the day. Oh well, lock them up too.

  7. CW
    April 25, 2011 at 12:05 am

    LIbH – are you crazy?? I NEVER read or hear about incidents of other kids being locked up or handcuffed EXCEPT African American children. Why is this? You’re advocating child abuse which makes you the lowest scum on earth. Anyone that would advocate this kind of abuse towards children are the ones that need to be locked up.

    Now thanks to a screwed up system, the child is more traumatized and out of control than ever.

  8. CW
    April 25, 2011 at 12:08 am

    LIbH – Also, your term of ill-mannered child is confusing. If the child is merely ill-mannered then WHY do you advocate the use of drugs instead of discipline? You appear to be yet another useless cog in a wheel heading no where. Very scary there are people like you in the world who advocate the mistreatment of children.

  9. dorothy hamilton
    May 7, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Common sense is dead and buried!

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