Where do you stand

I don’t know how many of you have seen this story, but it’s bringing up a lot of different reactions of my Facebook page … and I have to admit, I appreciate the views (pro and con) that folks opted to share.

Essentially, an 8 year old who may or may not have special needs (I don’t think he’s been officially diagnosed with any), was out of control, grabbed a piece of wood trim, and was trying to stab people with it. Police were called. They pepper sprayed the child to end the situation.

Now the mother is angry, because she feels the police should have rationalized with the child, which has apparently worked in the past.

Admittedly, I don’t know the whole story. I’m sure the police didn’t just walk in, hose the kid with pepper spray, and then amble out to their police cars while whistling the tune “Whistle While You Work.” I’m sure they did try to talk to him, but when it became evident that he wasn’t going to listen and that he could potentially hurt someone, they opted to subdue him.

But, there’s 2 things that struck me about this story:

1) Mom says “rationalizing” with the child works. Why do I get the feeling that “rationalizing” is actually “bargaining” or “pleading with” the child?

2) Mom says the police need training. Is this a classic psych projection mechanism or what? In my mind, if someone is so out of control that they are a danger to themselves or others, and the police are called, the duty is ensure public safety over all else. They aren’t counselors or social workers. They deal with all sorts of unsavory characters, and they are going to do what they are trained to do … defuse the situation as quickly as possible.

And with that in mind, what would have happened if someone would have been hurt while the police were trying to “rationalize” with this child? Could you imagine the criticism the police would have faced?

I guess in my mind, this kid needs boundaries. This kid needs to learn that, special needs or not, some behavior is not social acceptable … and that there will be consequences for these outbursts. What’s going to happen in a few more years when he finds the world isn’t going to screech to a halt and “rationalize” with him when these outbursts come? That his outbursts aren’t going to control a situation anymore? Will the behavior escalate?

Obviously, this kid needs help.

But learning that there are limits certainly isn’t going to hurt. And I think he learned one when the police showed up.

What do you think?


8 Responses to “Where do you stand”

  1. 1 Barb
    April 6, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    I haven’t seen the video yet, but as a parent, I think a lot of kids are messed up these days because their parents don’t know how to BE a parent. They don’t want to hurt little Timmy’s feelings, so they cave for everything. Little Timmy needs to learn how to behave in public, special needs or not.

    Rationalize with a child? No f’ing way. My parents didn’t rationalize with me, unless you count that paddle on my ass rationalization.

  2. 2 mindymin
    April 6, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    I dont think its the police or schools job to reason with an 8 year old that is threatening people, period. Honestly? I think that dear ol’ mom has done her fair share of contributing to the behavioral issues her son has. There is no excuse for that kind of behavior and her using his “behavioral issues” as an excuse for acting like a monster is a way of deflecting responsibility. It doesnt matter if you are 8 or 80 there has to be a level of personal accountability and responsibility for your actions, this kid learned that via pepper spray.

    Im sorry, I know that may seem harsh, but its reality. So many people like to play the blame game when it comes to personal responsibility when in reality just own your shit. If your going to do it/say it/act on it OWN it and all of the repercussions from it. Its a valuable lesson that if this mom had maybe taught her son he would have avoided being pepper sprayed at all & he would have thought twice before acting that way. Yes, he also needs help, but that doesnt excuse behaving that way in public.

  3. April 6, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Here’s a version of the story with more details. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/you-fuers-wild-co-8-year-old-pepper-sprayed-at-school-after-outburst/

    Assuming the reporting is accurate – which is a big assumption – the police were completely justified in this case. The kid had been rampaging for an extended period of time before they arrived and was wielding a weapon capable of causing real harm. He was given warning and refused to put the weapon down. The police used a non-deadly weapon to restore order. They protected the teachers and all the other kids in the classroom. That’s what we pay them to do.

    I think it’s amazing that they had to spray the kid TWICE before he dropped the stick. That just shows how out of control and dangerous he was. Was he high on PCP?

  4. 4 Mike D.
    April 6, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    This kid needs help. I agree. It is unclear whether he needs help due to some special needs, or if he needs help due to parents who give him everything he wants, and have never set boundaries for him (or a combination). Either way, it is not the job of the police to provide this child with the help he needs. The police need to make sure this kid does not hurt himself, and does not hurt others. This is what they did. The parents claiming that “the police need training”, are essentially saying it is the responsibility of the police to handle this child the way the parents would want him handled. This is patently impossible, and a ridiculous standard for the police to meet. The parents need to stop blaming others for the actions of their out-of-control child, and take a little responsibility. And yes, I know it’s not always easy. I’m not without sympathy to the parent of a special-needs child. I never claimed it was easy. That still doesn’t mean that it isn’t their responsibility.

  5. 5 Joyce
    April 6, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    As the mother of a special needs child I support the police. They used appropriate force to deal with an out of control person; 8 years old or not. They didn’t shoot him or taze him; they used pepper spray. You are entirely correct that all children need limits. Children with special behavioral needs require limits just as much; if not more; than ‘normal’ kids. I won’t bore you with stories of all the times my son attempted to push our limits and the various reactions we had. We are not saints just parents but we did the best we could each and every time.

  6. April 6, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    If I’m that kid’s mom, I scared out of my mind. For an 8-year old to display that sort of behavior is far beyond anything that comes down to parenting skills. There’s no right answer at all here–the kid just plain needs help.

  7. 7 Eric
    April 6, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    I want to be very clear that I am in complete agreement with how the police handled the situation. The mother doesn’t have a leg to stand on if her issue is with that course of action. Diffusion 101. My issue lies with people too quick to judge when things like this happen. I was the same way not long ago. In some ways, I still am. Believe me when I say this, it’s not your grandfathers world anymore when it comes to parenting. Oh how I wish it was.

    I have a perfectly normal 11 year old daughter and a 9 year old daughter that is a high functioning autistic kid. The same rules simply don’t apply. We do our best to raise our oldest using pap & gram’s parenting handbook. In my opinion, that kind of parenting is still the gold standard.

    I would love to explain to you in detail why that rule book is completely useless with some kids in the spectrum (ie, Autism, PDD, Asperger’s, etc. – or just plain old special needs for those that don’t like labels), but that’s the rub. There are always some parallels, but every kid has unique set of behaviors that require a “just right” combination of therapies and assistance to bring the kid as close to “socially acceptable” (whatever the hell that is) as his or her condition will allow. The success rate is way to low, but getting better with awareness, better parent education and better educated/equipped schools. Unfortunately the rate of diagnoses is increasing faster than society (read: infrastructure) can handle. It’s a huge challenge as the range (or spectrum) is very broad. Some kids, with a touch of PDD, may seem like just plain old bad kids (some are). Then you you swing all the way to a child rocking alone in a corner, non-verbal, self abusive, unable to communicate anything effectively and everything in between (academically brilliant but socially inept, savants, rain man, etc etc).

    I’m rambling… In summation – the times they are a changin’. I don’t think the trend is reversible (at least not in a time frame that will allow “normal” people to care for the people that will need it. Those in need will simply outnumber those able to provide care). So when you see or read something like this, don’t assume that the child is spoiled or that the parents need a dose of pepper spray. That may be the case on occasion, but don’t simply assume it. More and more now (and it’s going to get a lot worse) the parents are doing their best and no amount of heavy handed, tough love parenting will change that. These kids are hard wired differently. In certain cases, understanding right from wrong is MUCH harder (if even possible) than any of us can possibly comprehend.

    Still rambling… I’m happy to discuss the subject further over beers at the garden of your choosing.


  8. April 8, 2011 at 9:03 am

    i support the plolice too. this mother needs to stop blaming everyone but herself and that child and get him the help is obviously needs.

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