Why on earth would a 10-year-old boy get arrested? Why should any 10-year-old get arrested? To me, there doesn’t seem to be a good reason, like, at all. But this is sadly what happened to John Benjamin Haygood, a 10-year-old boy from Florida. John, who has autism, was arrested while at his school, Okeechobee Achievement Academy in Florida, by a school officer, according to The Washington Post.
The incident was recorded on video by the boy’s mother, showing John saying, “I don’t want to be touched. I don’t like to be touched.” All the while, his mom, Luanne Haygood, seemed unsure of what to do (because what DO you do?). John, who was called for state testing on April 12, ended up being arrested for a prior incident that happened in October–causing him to be held overnight at a juvenile facility.
So, what happened that caused this entire mess? John apparently kicked and scratched his educational assistant (kids with disabilities and special needs are usually given assistants as part of their IEP, or individualized education plan).
Because of that, he “had an outstanding warrant for battery on a school board employee, a third-degree felony,” according to the Post. However, John claimed the aide was hurting him, and yet, the school wouldn’t find him a new one. Court records wrote up the incident, as the Post described:
“On Oct. 27, the educator reported, John Benjamin was being disruptive in class, ‘throwing paper balls around the classroom and hitting other students,’ according to a probable cause affidavit.
‘When John Benjamin was asked to go to timeout he refused,’ according to the court records. The educator ‘attempted to remove the student and sent him back to the timeout place. At this point, John Benjamin started kicking and scratching and punching’ him.
The educator ‘had to restrain the student, he advised he came around the student and wrapped his arms around the upper chest as to not restrict child’s breathing,’ according to the documents.”
One of the worst parts about the entire fiasco is the fact that John’s mom couldn’t even ride with her son to jail–she even told the officers that he was scared (like any kid would be) and “has autism — he doesn’t know what’s going on, he’s scared to death, he’s 10 years old!”
As a former educator who taught students with IEPs, it sounds as if John wasn’t getting the attention and accommodations he needed–and potentially had an aide he wasn’t feeling safe with. This, however, is extremely different than John being a criminal–and treated like one because he has autism. This is not OK, and screams not only of a school mishandling a sensitive situation, but putting a child in a harmful and emotionally abusive situation.
The disturbing video is below: