The New York Civil Liberties Union says students of color are disproportionately handcuffed, including those in emotional distress.
According to its analysis of the nation’s largest public school system, 99 percent of students handcuffed while in emotional distress in 2016 were either Black or Latino.
There were 262 “child in crisis” incidents, in which students showed emotional distress and authorities transported them in handcuffs from school to a hospital for psychological evaluation. All but three of them were Black or Latino.
“When a child is handcuffed, the child is humiliated. It’s incompatible with the safe and supportive learning environment a school is supposed to provide,” said the organization’s executive director, Donna Lieberman, the New York Daily News reported.
Lieberman added that using handcuffs is not only unnecessary in non-threatening situations but also harmful to academic and emotional wellness.
The organization reported that arrests by school safety officers are declining, while precinct officers are making about 88 percent of arrests, despite having no training in the school environment. Further, more than 25 percent of NYPD arrests took place off school grounds for non-school-related incidents.
The NYPD responded to the report in a statement, via Fox 5 New York:
“The NYPD continues to work closely with city schools to reduce arrests and provide a safe learning environment for all students. Arrests are down 55 percent over past five school years. Summonses issued by the NYPD are down by 81 percent over the past five school years.”
Few students, particularly those in emotional distress, are physically restrained, the department added.
According to the New York Times, children with disabilities, including post traumatic stress disorder, represent about 12 percent of the national public school population but 23 percent of those arrested for misbehavior.