by Derek Scarlino/Love and Rage
I don’t write about my job, it’s confidential, but the nature of the job is something which becomes apparent per mention of the agency I work for, thus it’s safe to say that I teach traumatized kids.
On to the video of Deputy Ben Fields in SC who bodyslammed a noncompliant student. There has been no shortage of takes on the incident, but the people blaming the victim, pointing fingers at a 16-year-old have to realize something: That student was recently placed into foster care because she also recently became an orphan.
If you don’t understand the impact of loss on the mind and behaviors of humans, let it be known that trauma in any form alters behavior from what is both normally accepted and demonstrated by and around traumatized individuals.
That girl, sadly, was in the wrong setting. A teacher untrained in how to handle traumatized students is going to experience difficulties in managing their behavior; her teacher is not to blame. She should probably not be in a public school at the moment and that is a failure of the State of South Carolina.
The officer, who has been fired, displayed a complete disregard for the well-being of everyone present in that classroom as the student was rag-dolled out of her seat in a disgusting act of force. Witnessing a violent event can also induce trauma, and what those kids saw now needs to be able to make sense in the minds of adolescents already acutely focused on issues of fairness per their developmental level during those ages.
I’m not saying that they all went home terrified. I’m not saying that they all need counseling or will hate police officers forever, but they got a true sense of the importance, realized or not, of always putting the onus on a given authority to legitimize its actions. The rest of us got a reminder. Authority should never be granted without due scrutiny of its intentions. This is even more prescient as the student faces criminal charges.
Unless there’s an expectation in that school district which demonstrates clearly that police officers are allowed to use any means necessary to remove a student from class, then there is no place for what happened in the confines of any school in that district. Given that the police officer was later fired, and the fundamental nature of public schools, it is highly doubtful that any such expectation existed in the first place.
Even with the termination of the officer from his position, any sense of justice is fleeting as this young woman now has even more hurdles to overcome on her extended path to recovery. The entire incident is a disgrace.