Criminalizing Childhood: Tennessee Cops Arrest 6-Year-Olds For Not Breaking Up A Fight

When I was a kid, I watched a number of fights on the playground, in the school cafeteria and just on my block. This was true when I was in elementary school and it continued to be true all the way to when I was in high school. If you would have told me that I could be arrested for not breaking up the fight, I would have looked at you like you were certifiably insane.

But that was before America decided that criminalizing childhood was a good idea:

MURFREESBORO — More than 150 people called for action Sunday after parents said at least five students, ages 6 to 10, were handcuffed at Hobgood Elementary School on Friday.

The students were arrested, accused of not stopping a fight that happened earlier off-campus and later released from the juvenile center on Friday

These were not kids that participated in the fight, they just watched it happen and were arrested for it. Think about that for a moment: a 6-year-old child was HANDCUFFED for not breaking up a fight. What did the police think this kid was going to do? Attack them? What kind of thought process leads a grown man to handcuff an elementary school student? Even worse, what kind of society ALLOWS a grown man to handcuff an elementary school student and not immediately fire them as a danger to the public?

But back to the flawed premise behind the arrest. I happen to have a 6-year-old of my own and she has a fairly forceful personality, but the idea of her leaping into a fight to break it up is ludicrous. She’s 6! And even if she’d been 10, when did it become a legal obligation for kids to break up a fight they’re not involved in? Don’t the police have anything better to do with their time than turn little children into criminals?

The icing on the cake was arresting them at the school in front of their classmates. Because leading a 6-year-old out of school in handcuffs can’t possibly leave any long-term mental scars, right? Again, we as a society allow this to happen.

This is the direct result of a fundamentally broken law enforcement culture. They no longer see communities as made up of people, they only see potential criminals. It seems that the thinking is, if you get them into the system when they’re young, you’ll have an easier time throwing them in jail later. Never mind that most of the cops involved almost certainly watched a fist fight as a kid, or got into one themselves, it’s criminal behavior these days.

Oh, and you’ll be absolutely shocked to know that the community this occurred in is….you guessed it: Mostly African-American. Because when little Timmy watches a fight, it’s just boys being boys. But little Leroy? He’s a goddamn criminal and needs to be taught a lesson!

With this kind of ongoing behavior, the police are hard at work creating an entire generation of (mostly minority) children that fear and loathe them. And then the cops have the gall to rage at the Black Lives Matter movement? Unbelievable.


Featured image via Getty