A week or more ago I was sent yet another link reporting a disgusting act of abuse inflicted on a child diagnosed with autism and special educational needs. The worse part of this story was that such abuse occurred at a place most consider to be a safe and caring environment, the child’s school! The abuse in question that was inflicted on the child by those there to teach him as well as protect him from harm was that of his teacher(s).
It has been reported that a nine-year old boy who was thought to be enrolled in a special educational needs programme and was assign a teaching aide knowledgeable in autism and SEN (special educational needs) was stuffed in a large duffel bag with the drawstring toggle pulled tightly.
The Child named Christopher Baker who lives in Kentucky in the United States with his mother Sandra Baker, was stuffed into the bag because he reportedly refused to work, smirked and throw a ball across the classroom (instead of putting it down as instructed to do so by his teacher).
Yet again we are hearing about a child subjected to crawl forms of abuse due to a complete lack of care, understanding or training! This is treatment no child should be subjected to, especially those with additional needs… there is no words for the disgust I felt when reading the report, I therefore dare to think how his mother must have felt on discovering such treatment was taking place.
Mr’s Baker, the child’s mother told reporters that she was called into the Mercer County school, in-which her child was a third grader, just a few hours after her child had arrived to start his day’s learning due to reports his behaviour was becoming challenging (he was bouncing of the walls)!
On reading this I found myself nodding, it’s not uncommon as a parent to a child on the autism spectrum, to receive daily calls from your child’s school! This is not only something I relate to but a great deal of parents, nearly all those I’ve ever spoken to know all to well as this is a problem they are presented with at some part of their child’s education, especially if being taught in a mainstream school which was the case for Little man.
Mrs Baker states that on arrival she didn’t see her child but instead saw a large green duffel type bag on the floor in the middle of the school hall! The drawstring toggle was pulled tightly only leaving a small hole. Beside the bag sat a educational aide! It wasn’t in till Mrs Baker heard, “Moma is that you” coming from inside the bag did she realise that her 9-year-old autistic son was being held inside.
As a mother I dare to imagine the scale of horror and anger this mother felt on discovering her child was actually rolled up inside that bag or worse the fear felt by the child subjected to such a terrible ordeal!
What gets me is the fact a educational aide is right there, sat beside him, like this is a totally acceptable thing to do to a child.
Amazingly there was more… to add to an already shocking situation, Mr’s Baker reports how on ordering the aide to release her son while experiencing a whole spectrum of emotions, the aide actually struggled to release the child what with the toggle being pulled so tightly meaning it took longer than it should to free him. Mrs Baker made a valid but worrying point, What if there was some kind of emergency, something relating to his health or even a fire within the premisses? Seriously, it really doesn’t bare thinking about, does it!
The mother reported that once out the bag her son was clearly distressed, sweaty with eyes like half dollars, he was noticeably in a state of shock.
Christopher stated when asked by his mother why he was in the bag, it was because he didn’t do his work! Later reports from various publications state that it was this with the additional factor, he smirked and throw a ball across the classroom. Seriously, do you see this as “Challenging behaviour” It was my understanding that if a child doesn’t do his work a good teacher knows how to deal with such an issue, what good is a teacher who does not uptake and embrace such a challenge of finding a way to engage a child in such classroom activities? As for the smirked or even the ball throwing… god only knows how my son would have been treated if in this child’s shoes, for he has done things considered a thousand times more challenging while attending both mainstream and special school.
What I read next deeply troubled me and I’m guessing the whole nations parents to a child with additional needs felt somewhat the same!
Reports claim that Mrs Baker was told that the bag was in fact a type of therapy bag used as therapy for Christopher’s autism! If this isn’t a shocking enough revolution, Mrs Baker also states how she was then informed that this was not the first time her son was placed in the duffel bag!
I have to admit, having read the story I needed to stop reading for a while! I then cried for a number of people and reasons! I cried for the child in question and any other child like him subjected to such cruelty, for Mrs Baker and the emotions she felt on such a horrid discovery, but more so due to my anger at the fact the school have somehow justified such actions by branding them as therapy when really its just another use of child abuse! If I, or anyone else who parents a child on the autism spectrum, regardless of what country they were from, stuffed their child into an oversized duffel bag, leaving only a small gap for ventilation and then claimed it to be therapy, we would have our arses slung in jail and any children in our care removed and rightly so! Yet if the child’s teacher is to do such an act it is instead seen as therapeutic? Bull S#%t! It’s a joke and a massive act of injustice.
Although the case is still under investigation Mr Dennis Davis (who is reported to be the interim superintendent) stated that under state and federal confidentiality laws prohibited him from commenting! He could therefore not confirm nor deny the allegations made.
Now, Little man has thankful never been stuffed in a duffel bag as punishment, but as many know he was treated in a crawl and undignified way while in his mainstream school! Little man was carried by his arms and legs in front of other pupils through the playground, he was restrained, taught in isolation, never included in educational trips or class activities (instead left with a TA in a side room during Christmas assemblies and class parties, only close enough to hear such activities taking place). There were other things, things left unproved, Little man’s word alongside other pupils against a string of adults, incidents not fully investigated or investigated at all!
At least he eventually got a written apology, given just before the pending tribunal for disability discrimination! Mrs Baker and her son have yet to get even that!
It’s my opinion that the laws (or lack of them) surrounding restraint and isolation against children with Special educational needs both here, the states and a whole host of other places, need to be changed! Just like here in the UK, there is no laws protecting children from such actions of those above. Yes, I understand that the child who endangers his teachers, peers or themselves may need to be restrained, but in what way? It’s my opinion that this child did none of the above, he was not a danger, just a child with autism and SEN, yet regardless, how is placing a child in a duffel bag considered to be anything other than abuse?
There is no hard guidelines and practice on what is considered to be lawful restraint as I know from experience here in the UK there are far to many loop holes! How is it that most teachers teaching throughout our schools hasn’t received special training on how to handle such challenges, especially when mainstream school’s across the entire country and beyond are finding themselves educating children with autism, SEN, EBD (emotional behavioural difficulties) ADHD and a whole host of other conditions?
Sandra Baker and her son Christopher, may not live here in the UK but their story is still a story that deserves recognition by us the british public! Mrs Baker is now campaigning for those involved to stand accountable either by losing they’re teaching position or at least being fully trained to meet the needs of children like Christopher! I for one think this is more than reasonable, as in all honesty… I’d be calling for a prison sentence myself (the chances of such happenings are minimal) though it is my opinion that a person capability of such an offence should never be allowed to work with children again! Whether this is in a teaching position or that of another all together.
So… What I’m asking all my lovely loyal readers to do to help Sandra and Christopher Baker in their campaign for justice? First, if desired please watch the news report where Sandra and Christopher can be seen talking about this terrible turn of events…
Then, all, I ask is for a few seconds of your time to sign a petition on Change.Org.
This petition has already began to grab the nations support already holding an impressive 147,126 people’s signatures of those in the States and around the world! It was set up by 18-year-old Lydia Brown who is also on the autism spectrum and created the petition having heard the story and seen the publics reaction to it!
For those bloggers (especially mummy bloggers) who read my blog I’d love for you to share this and engage others to sign the petition, whether that’s via a little tweeting, a small post, or a bit of facebooking! I know I have some pretty influential contacts so please help Christopher get justice for the abuse he suffered.