The teachers of a Lakewood, Colorado 8 year old, Aiden Elliot, as well as the Colorado police who were on scene, are defending their decision to resort to pepper spray as a means to end a situation that had turned volatile. But many, especially Aiden’s mother Mandy Elliot, strongly disagree.
Aiden belongs to a school for kids with behavior problems, so it’s apparent that aggravated behavior might be common in a class like this. But on February 28th, Aiden became more agitated than usual. After he had been rowdy on the bus, the teachers had enforced limits with him and called his mother. As a result, Aiden started spitting and throwing chairs. And then, holding a piece of sharp wood like a knife, he threatened the teachers.
“I kind of blow up a little,” Aidan told Good Morning America, who originally aired the story. “I said I’m going to kill you once you get out of that room.”
The teachers barricaded themselves in the room and called the police. When the police arrived, Aiden told them, “I’m going to kill you mother effers,” waving the stick at them. It was then that police pepper sprayed Aiden, diffusing the situation by handcuffing the child and leading him away.
Police are defending their actions. “It was a situation that had to be diffused and it had to be done very quickly. No one went home injured that day,” Lakewood Police Officer Steve Davis said.
But Mandy Elliot is furious with the school and the officers in this third incident that involved the police. “I was angry. I didn’t understand. I was on my way….Why didn’t they talk to him. He was red, handcuffed, crying, screaming how much it burned,” she said. “I think they should have approached him, tried to talk to him, even if it was from a distance. You talk to him and you find out what it is that’s bothering him as well. You don’t just walk in, ask him to stop and then spray.” According to her, the problem seems to lie with Aiden and the school as he never acted violently in any of his other activities or events. She’s tried putting him on medication, but doesn’t believe that it works. And Aiden admits that he needs to work on cooling his temper.
Many believe that the police acted too strongly in this case. And while it seems rather harsh that the ending tactic in diffusing a situation involving an 8 year old with pepper spray, I’m immediately reminded of the situation involving another mentally ill teen right here in Santa Rosa.
16 year old Jeremiah Chass was armed with a tool as a weapon when police came on scene back in 2007. It’s disputed whether it was a hostage situation, but police claim Jeremiah was holding his brother hostage. The parents deny that claim. Whatever the case, Jeremiah was not backing down to the officer’s non violent tactics of pepper spray and using the baton. The end result was a bullet that ended Jeremiah’s life.
Mandy Elliot should be eternally grateful that she can even sit beside her son on the couch of Good Morning America instead of planning the funeral of her child.
I watched the video of this child on Good Morning America, and it pissed me off. I felt like his mom wasn’t doing anything to help him, bent on blaming all those around him and feeding him with lines so he didn’t have to shoulder the responsibility for his actions. The kid has anger issues that need to be treated. And it is obvious that it’s getting out of control if his actions are causing the police to be called for THREE different incidents. The first time should have been a wake up call. And this last time that resulted in pepper spray? It should have been the last straw – not to go to GMA or the news, but to seek actual help for a child that is crying out for it. If it were my child, of course I’d be upset. Of course I’d hate to know that my child had gone through the pain of being pepper sprayed. But the bigger issue is that this child, at 8 years old, was so angry he was threatening the lives of those around him – and it’s not being dealt with. There lies the real problem.
So my take? I think police did the right thing in diffusing the situation so that no one was harmed in the longterm, that a violent 8 year old who could potentially maim those around him should not be immune to non-violent tactics like pepper spray, and that it’s Mandy who needs the wake-up call.
What’s your take? Is 8 years old too young for pepper spray to be used, regardless of the situation? Or do you think the police took the appropriate actions with this second grader?
Having worked for over a decade in residential treatment programs for severely emotionally disturbed children I can vouch for the exreme violence that some of these kids are capable of. Many of the kids become comfortable acting out in very dangerous and aggressive ways because the treatment staff are trained to interene in non-aggressive ways and to wait out the situation if needed. Once the behavior turns dangerous for the child or for others and police need to be called to intervene steps then need to be taken to end the situation as quickly as possible in order to keep everyone safe. The police will utilize methods that the child (and parents) may not expect or be happy with. I believe the police did their job in keeping eveyone safe. I can guarentee that their acitons will cause the young man to recosider how far he is willing to go the next time he “looses his temper.”
If the officers version of the Chass killing is to believed, one has to believe that Jeremiah was holding a knife to the neck of his younger brother, while rabbit kicking two adult men and nearly knocking one of them out, and then the officers unloaded both of their weapons without hitting the younger child… not impossible, but not very probable either.
If the empathy evident in Marla’s statement “I can guarentee that their acitons will cause the young man to recosider how far he is willing to go the next time he ‘looses his temper.'” is indicative of residential treatment workers, than our society has deeper problems than abusive police officers, maybe there is something about the way we think of power and authority?
I’m a little confused. This was an 8 year old with a stick, and the teachers were too afraid to handle him themselves? I too work in a residential treatment facility for kids with behavioral problems, and all the staff is trained to verbally de-escalate, then do a physical restraint if the kid becomes a danger to himself or others. Most of the time, once the adults have restrained the kid, he immediately calms down. Kids with anger issues often act out because they are afraid that the adults around them are unable to control them.
How many times does this need to happen with the same child. I am sorry but the mother needs to take full responsiblity for this. If a teacher or any other adult would have tried to subdue this child the mother would have probably had her lawyer on the phone to begin her lawsuit. Calling the police was the best course of action in this case, it wasn’t like he could be coaxed into calming down and if he is this dangerous at 8 God help the school he attends in the future. He needs direct consquences for his behavior. Maybe his mother needs to be at the school to keep his behavior in check if she feels they could have handled it better? Any person so enraged as this child was is a danger to others and himself. Maybe he should be home schooled so teachers can be on hand to teach the other 30 kids that are ignored because one can’t control his temper.
The real problem is this kid’s mother. It is her responsibility to find out why her son exploded and threatened peoples’ lives with a sharp object. He should be receiving frequent, longterm professional help for his emotional problems… help beyond what the school can provide.
The teachers did their job by calling the mother, calling the police, and keep the other children and themselves safe. The police did their job by using the least amount of force necessary to end the threat. Pepper spray hurts, but it’s temporary. He’ll get over it.