In a totally reasonable response to a child doing something they shouldn’t, a 13-year-old girl was arrested after making finger guns at four other students at Westridge Middle School in Overland Park, Kansas.
According to the Kansas City Star, the girl had been bullied for months according to her mother, Vanessa McCaron. At one point, they found her in the corner of the cafeteria sobbing by herself.
The Star reported that, upon being asked by a classmate who she would kill in school if she had the chance, the girl pointed at other students with finger guns. She was promptly sent to the office where she was then arrested by the school’s on-duty police officer and charged with felonious threatening:
A school resource officer, employed, by the Overland Park Police Department, would have handled the arrest, Smith said. The department said it could not discuss the case.
But according to Johnson County District Court documents, on Sept. 18, the girl “unlawfully and feloniously communicated a threat to commit violence, with the intent to place another, in fear, or with the intent to cause the evacuation, lock down or disruption in regular, ongoing activities …” or created just the risk of causing such fear.
McCaron pleaded with the officer to not arrest her daughter, but the officer wouldn’t relent according to the Star:
“He said, ‘I will press charges against anyone who I think has broken the law,’” said McCaron, who contacted The Star following Wednesday’s initial story about the incident. “He had such a great opportunity to use his badge to change something in a child, but he chose not to,” she added. “I think this is an insane abuse of power.
The mother has reassured everyone that her child is “anti-gun” and that she would never harm anyone despite the constant bullying she endures.
So many things have gone wrong here.
For one, the girl is apparently bullied by cruel children to the point where she’s sobbing in corners, and yet no one wants to take action until she makes the shape of a gun with her fingers. An abuse of authority takes place in her arrest, all out of fear that the child’s “finger guns” are indicative of a greater oncoming threat. She’s put into handcuffs, doubtlessly further scarring the child emotionally.
Meanwhile, her bullies are going unpunished without a hitch.
What would have happened, if the adults in the room had their senses about them and had simply sent the girl to the principal’s office to talk with her? Upon speaking to her about the incident, they likely would have found that this girl would not have hurt anyone, but did have a reason for doing it.
Upon investigating this reason, a better course of action would have taken place. Perhaps they could be more on the lookout for bullying behavior from students and/or institute harsher punishments for those who do bully their fellow students. They could have helped this girl by giving her emotional support and making her very dark world appear a little brighter.
Instead, the school and local authorities joined in on the bullying.
I get that many schools are jumpy thanks to school shootings in the past, but abandoning every lick of sense and compassion because someone remotely perceives a threat is not going to make the situation better. In fact, this kind of abuse and isolation is how these killers are created.