Since When Is a “Burp” a Juvenile Offense?

It appears there may be some heavy-handed teachers and police officers in America. First there was the seven-year-old autistic boy who was handcuffed, then the six-year-old arrested for playing doctor with a playmate, and now, a grade seven boy was arrested, handcuffed and taken from his P.E. class at school to juvenile detention by a police officer in Albuquerque.

His offence? He audibly “burped” in class. Yes, you read that right!

The boy’s parents have launched a civil suit against the school principal, his teacher and the arresting officer, alleging the boy’s due process rights were violated when he was expelled from school for the remainder of the school year, without an explanation from the school and no opportunity to explain his side of the story or call witnesses on his behalf.

When he arrived at the juvenile detention centre a risk assessment was performed on him on a scale of one to ten, with ten posing the highest risk. His score was minus two, meaning he was less than a zero risk to the community or himself.

The boy was not permitted to write final exams, became anxious and depressed and his former athletic activities fell by the wayside.

However, this was not the first time this young boy was the subject of an unlawful arrest. The lawsuit also recounts a situation six months earlier when the boy was called to the principal’s office because he had $200 in his pocket.

The school alleged the money was the ill-gotten gains of the boy’s marijuana sales and told the boy they had proof on video. During this incident, the boy was forced to strip to his underwear, while five adults stood around him and a search was conducted. The boy was allegedly told he was not allowed to call his mother.

He was never charged with any offence arising from this incident and his parents allege the strip-search was unlawful.

I’m sure there is much more to be told, however, the defendants have not spoken to the press. Teachers and police officers both have notoriously tough jobs, particularly when it comes to handling youth. It will be interesting to see if the boy’s allegations are proven in a court of law and to hear the other side of the story.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang


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