Florida personal injury reports like the recent arrests of Orlando six-year-olds are so off base, they seem more fiction than fact. No, the two arrests didn’t occur decades upon decades ago, when the lack of a juvenile justice system demanded that children be treated like adults.
An Orlando police officer arrested the kids in 2019. This has led to a firestorm of emotions, as well as inquiries regarding the rights of children, the correct and lawful way to deal with juvenile offenders, and what the law actually dictates to be appropriate.
Should children so young they can barely tie their shoes be arrested? Common sense says ‘no.’ Read onward to see if Florida law agrees.
Breakdown of a Childs Arrest
- In the state of Florida, the arrests are (drumroll please) lawful. The arresting officer did need to obtain his supervisor’s approval to arrest a child under the age of 12, however, and he did not obtain it in either case. Florida is a nation-leader in juvenile arrests. Whether this has created a dangerous culture of complacency is up for debate. The officer was fired, indicating that the police force did not agree with his actions.
- The legal ramifications of this officer’s actions could be enormous. The parents could sue the school system, the police department and naturally the resource officer himself, citing personal injury of a grievous nature. What does the act of being placed in the back of a squad car and taken to a scary place (jail) do to harm a child’s psyche? Expect psychologists to weigh in on the ramifications and damages to be considerable.
- The state attorney is dropping all charges against the children. Still, where does the damage end? Children are malleable. Their brains are still actively developing. School and social services exist to help those whom we deem most vulnerable. Instead of consulting a counselor or social worker, the school’s resource officer was called upon to restrain the children. People who are a danger to themselves or society should be dealt with, yes. However, arresting them was the wrong course of action.
To be deemed a ‘juvenile delinquent,’ a child must be at least seven years old. Let that sink in for a moment – a seven-year-old is likely a second-grader. If we decide at that young age which children are bound for the prison pipeline and who isn’t when will they ever have a chance to succeed in society? We’re not calling for lax school rules – just more support for the children who need it the most. And that support does not include them being read their Miranda rights.