A 7-Year-Old Boy Was Called A ‘Danger To Society’ And Cuffed At School, His Parents Say
Cellphone video shows the child, who has not been publicly identified, wearing metal handcuffs and being escorted by a Miami-Dade police officer late last week from Coral Way Bilingual K-8 Center to a local children's hospital for evaluation, according to ABC affiliate WPLG.
"It's okay, my love," the boy's mother, Mercy Alvarez, called out to him in Spanish.
Officials with Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Miami-Dade Schools Police Department did not respond to requests for comment Monday morning. But according to an incident report cited by Fox affiliate WSVN, the boy became violent Thursday after he was pulled from the school cafeteria for playing with his food.
The report stated that he "attacked the teacher by repeatedly punching her on her back, in the hallway" and once he was restrained, he continued to struggle, bringing the pair to the ground.
Once on the ground, the report added, the boy continued to fight the teacher, "grabbing her hair and pulling it toward him," according to the news station.
After he calmed down, he was taken to the principal's office — then taken into custody.
The child's father, Rolando Fuentes, told WSVN that he was told his son was "a danger to society." "I said, 'What? Seven years old? A danger to society?' " he said.
"I know that my kid made a mistake," Fuentes told WPLG. "This is completely insane."
In November, the boy was accused of kicking a teacher, but the school handled the matter internally without getting the police involved, according to news reports. This time, the parents said they went down to the school and agreed to a 10-day suspension but were told that he had to be taken to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
Ian Moffett, chief of the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department, acknowledged in a statement to WPLG, "It is rare for students this young to be Baker Acted." Florida's Baker Act allows individuals to be held an involuntary psychiatric examination when they are considered a danger to themselves or others. The Gainesville Sun reported last year that Baker Act cases had risen in one county in northern Florida — which one expert said represented a better awareness of mental illnesses.
"This action was warranted to prevent his erratic and violent behavior from bringing further harm to others or himself," Moffett added. "The manner in which he was transported to the receiving facility was done in accordance with Standard Operating Procedures," Moffett said. "Our Professional Compliance Unit is thoroughly reviewing this incident."
WPLG reported that the parents are considering filing a lawsuit against the school.
"I was in shock — shock," Fuentes told WSVN about his son's detainment.
Alvarez, the boy's mother, told the news station that "I feel like my heart is broken."