It was agonizing to enjoy the system-digicam footage of Rochester police bodily restraining, handcuffing, and pepper-spraying a 9-year-aged female amid a mental well being disaster.
It was heartbreaking that the boy or girl was the only individual in the situation with the presence of head to remind the officers — grown ups bestowed with the obligation to serve and shield — that she was, in reality, a youngster.
It was distressing to view as her pleas for her father were blatantly disregarded.
It was sickening to listen to an officer say to his colleague, “Just spray her at this position,” and to notify the lady, “You’re performing like a kid.” The absence of empathy and compassion displayed by these police officers is abhorrent.
No boy or girl really should be treated like this not below these circumstances, not below any circumstance.
But in New York, kids as young as 7 many years aged — 1st graders — can be handcuffed, transported in law enforcement vehicles, interrogated, detained, positioned on probation, or mandated to confinement. And like the girl who was handcuffed and pepper-sprayed, it is little ones of color who are most subjected to these practices.
Fairly than handcuff elementary faculty kids, we ought to in its place build pathways to age-appropriate solutions to handle youthful children’s desires, primarily when a little one and family members are in crisis.
Reforms to juvenile justice had been lately enacted to reduce the criminalization of our teenage kids. Nonetheless, these reforms failed to handle our youngest local community customers, leaving kids as younger as 7 to be addressed like criminals.
That is why the state Legislature will have to pass two payments introduced previous session, Senate Invoice S8685 and Assembly Bill A10727. People expenses would elevate the cheapest age at which a boy or girl could be categorised a “juvenile delinquent” from 7 decades aged to 12 several years old, and make certain that counties build community-centered response packages to tackle behaviors of elementary faculty-aged small children that, appropriate now, lands kids in Relatives Courtroom.
These bills would conclusion the reliance on law enforcement and the risk of arrest for small children beneath 12. They would also involve every single county to recognize and arrange expert services to reply to youthful children’s requirements, mitigate harm, and develop family resiliency.
In the confront of the COVID-19 disaster and the fragility of lots of young children in our communities, now is the time to dedicate to reforms that center the well being and effectively-becoming of our communities’ most susceptible.
Carla Palumbo is the president and chief government officer of The Lawful Support Modern society of Rochester.
Stephen Weisbeck directs the Juvenile Justice Plan for The Lawful Assist Culture of Rochester.