The problem of police being called on Black children is growing, as more incidents come to light. What is also increasing is the number of children experiencing mental health struggles connected to traumatic police encounters prompted by 911 calls.
A Black student is battling anxiety and nightmares after her Wisconsin high school reportedly called the police on and suspended her — incidents that also prompted a protest on Wednesday (Oct. 17).
The 16-year-old teen, Chanese Knox, a junior at Greendale High School in the Milwaukee suburb of Greendale, had repeatedly faced bullies who called her the N-word. She received little help from school officials in battling the racially tense school environment, her mother, Diannia Merriett, said to Yahoo Lifestyle.
When Knox spoke back in defending herself from a bully’s attack last month, she was later pulled out of class and met by the school’s vice principal and two police officers. The officers explained that they wanted to speak to Knox about “disorderly conduct” and claimed that her body language had been threatening, Merriett said. There was no police action taken beyond the encounter, but Knox was suspended for a day — a decision that she has continuously appealed.
Now, she is dealing with severe trauma over the experience, which has also caused her to miss big events and resulted in a drop in her grades.
Reginald Fields, a 12-year-old African-American boy who neighbors called the police on for cutting grass in Ohio during the summer, has battled fears as well. He was initially discouraged by the incident but later recovered with the help of residents who became new clients of his lawn-mowing business.
Another boy, Fatayi Jomoh, who was only 11 years old, had fears about police after he was handcuffed for dribbling a basketball in August. The incident in Jacksonville, Florida soured Jomoh’s feelings about cops, his mother said.
It’s clear that there is evidence showing that kids are traumatized by these tense police encounters—and it is up to lawmakers to find a way to stop this onslaught of unnecessary 911 calls.