A New Tool To Handle Misbehaving Children – Pepper Spray!

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

He’s eight years old. His name is Aiden Elliot, and he went to school at Glennon Heights Elementary School, in Jefferson County, Colorado. At least that’s where the boy attended school until recently. Then, his life changed.

Young Master Elliot claims to have a temper. This eight year old apparently blew up in a classroom empty of children, and shared at the time by Aiden and two teachers who “specialize” in “troubled children”. So was it really a surprise when he threw a violent temper tantrum? It shouldn’t have been, but apparently it was. It certainly may have been surprising when he threatened to kill his teachers after tearing off piece of the flooring and brandishing it like a knife. By that time, the two teachers had barricaded themselves in another room, safe from the angry…um, eight year-old.

That was when those courageous teachers, fulfilling their assignment to…um, take care of troubled elementary school children, did their duty as they saw it. They called the cops.

The police showed up rapidly, and, um, did their duty as they saw it. As the representative for the local police department said, “It was a situation that had to be defused and it had to be done very quickly. No one went home injured that day.”

Right, except that instead of actually talking to the boy, or attempting to handle him – they pepper sprayed him.

Yes. An eight year-old. Well, um, I guess he deserved it. Right? (There are actually some complete morons making that argument on the Internet.) According to Peg Katsberg, superintendent of the district, “He was violent, he was verbal, he was abusive.”

Yeah, okay. Well, I know that when my children got upset with me, or said things that I didn’t like, well, I always pulled out the pepper spray. Also, the attack dog and the baseball bat. And I occasionally called in the National Guard.

Let’s call it as it is, folks. The policemen and teachers who grossly mishandled this young boy are CRAZY! They’re terrifyingly awful at their jobs. They’re a danger to the community and to anyone placed in their tender care.

And your tax dollars pay for their services.

The boy’s mother claims that Aiden never “acts out” like this, except in school. “It only happens at school. It doesn’t happen at soccer. It doesn’t happen at swimming. It doesn’t happen with babysitters, with family members.”

Does this surprise anyone? It shouldn’t. Where is a child most powerless? Where are his interests and needs less attended to than in school? Where does he have to share attention each hour with dozens of others, and where is he most expected to conform to some imaginary and conveniently easy-to-manage “norm”?

This story is a great argument for homeschooling. And by the way, when “authorities” (as they are doing in Sweden and Germany, and in a few states in the U.S.) pretend that homeschool parents are a potential danger to their children, send them a copy of this little tale and ask them to find another line of work.

Schools, classrooms, the entire idea of school, it is all degrading. If you as an adult were treated like most school children are, well, I imagine there would be a lot more pepper spray being sold to local police departments. The only wonder is that MORE children don’t rebel. According to the Denver Post, such acts of student violence are severely on the rise in their fair municipality. Hmmm. There’s a surprise. Good work, Colorado.

By the way and if you’re wondering, Aiden has not been “assessed” with any disease other than no one was listening to him and he got angry. His words: “I was rowdy on the bus…They didn’t let me do something I wanted to do. We needed to do stuff, but they wouldn’t let me. They put me in a corner with chairs and they called my mom. It was really the teachers because I just got really upset with them.”

Wonder what he wanted to do? Go to the bathroom, maybe? We can’t have that, you know. People just needing to go to the bathroom whenever they…um, need to go to the bathroom. Where would that leave our schools? (You know my answer, I suspect. I think that generally the children would learn more playing with the water pouring out of the bathroom sinks than in overcrowded and dangerous schools. And they might actually enjoy themselves, a paralyzing thought to schools, it seems.) Maybe he didn’t raise his hand? Maybe he did raise it, but not high enough?

Perhaps he wanted to go home? Maybe school was just too much of a losing proposition that day, and being a child, he’s not able to ‘call in sick”, like an adult might do if the job became just too much. Aiden was not an angel, that’s certainly true. But the fact remains that he’s a CHILD, and that what was done to him is child abuse.

Again, his mother: “The school he was at was for children who have social and emotional behavioral issues … They know what the kids are capable of before they took him on. They could have also called and asked for a special unit who deals with children from the police department in these crisis situations. 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.”

Yup, that school, all set up for children with “issues”, sure handled Aiden well. So did those carefully trained public servants, the police. And in their public statements, they certainly have each others backs. It’s the administrators and teachers and police against the world…or at least, against one angry eight year-old. Hey, I guess we’re lucky the school principal left her shotgun at home that day.

Imagine if your child was in school, and happened to have a bad day that resulted in such treatment? What would you do about it?

Aiden, with some nobility and sadly enough, blames himself. “I kind of deserved it.”

No, Aiden, you didn’t deserve it. No child deserves to be pepper sprayed. For that matter, no child deserves to have his wishes entirely ignored.

What most moved me personally were Aiden’s reflections after the fact. “I don’t know how my future is going to be–rich, happy, good life road or bad, homeless, poor road.” These are the words of an unusually introspective and intelligent boy. For myself, I can’t tell him where his road goes. I do know that if he stays in school, that road will most likely get darker and narrower, and the likelihood is that this will happen again in one form or another, and perhaps to far grimmer results. For those children who do not or cannot conform to “the norm”, and who are locked into a system demanding it of them, can we really be surprised when they blow up?

Of course, this story will mean different things to different people. The child psychologist is salivating right now at the thought of Aiden, and perhaps getting some state and insurance money in the coffers. The drug companies like Aiden, too, and nearly swoon at the potential Ritalin sales. Local survivalist stores just ordered in more pepper spray, expecting a bit of a run on it. Teacher’s Unionists just puffed out their chests and, with a sad cry, demanded more money for their services when placed in such bitter danger. The police involved are doubtless speaking to lawyers now about possible wrongful termination lawsuits. Reactionary politicians of a certain stripe just grinned, they were just handed a weapon to assist in their union smashing. Hyper-liberal politicians equally grinned, knowing that the battle cry of “more school funding” just got a lift.

I’m a parent. I hope that Aiden simply stays away from all of the nasty people mentioned above. I’m disgusted with the school and the teachers who failed Aiden. I hope Aiden gets to walk a road of his own design. I personally hope that road leads him far away from the miserably failed system of education that has clearly served him so poorly to date.

As you probably know, I am an advocate for homeschooling. It’s my belief that homeschooling potentially provides a student with a vastly superior education than schooling in any form. This is backed up by a lot of numbers and research. I’ve taught for public and private schools, at the University level, as a private instructor in thousands of workshops, and as a homeschool dad running a homeschool group. Homeschooling by far works best for most students- and most families.

But I understand that many parents do not believe they can effectively homeschool. They’ve been told that they “don’t have degrees,” and that they “aren’t qualified.” This is all nonsense, of course. You’re legally not required to have any kind of a degree to homeschool your kids anywhere in the U.S. A lot of people who have degrees and who call themselves “professional teachers” are simply awful, and even destructive at what they do. A lot of parents…hundreds that I know of…have homeschooled their kids right into universities and careers.

In a serious effort to make homeschooling easier to do, and more commonly successful in terms of education received, I’ve authored my own curriculum. It took some 15,000 hours to write, over more than a decade of work, and is intended to replace the need for schooling a student from age 5-Adult Continuing Education. The curriculum is called Steps (or “CTT”). It has been used by over 20,000 students worldwide over the past 10 years. Hundreds of “success stories” attest to how well CTT works.

CTT courses are written in a way that gradually allows the student to take over his own education. Each course itself largely does the teaching, relieving mom and dad of that duty unless they wish to use our daily lesson plans in various subjects as springboards for family discussion and discovery – as many families do, every day. The parent has the job of making certain the student is working and has what they need to study. (And you’ll need to find a good math program for homeschooling as we don’t provide one. There are many.)

Below are links to our site discussing each level of curriculum, and every subject at that level that we offer. (You can start any level at any time. We don’t have “semesters” that start at a certain time, and each course stands alone well.) You’ll find free videos describing how every subject and each level works. You’ll discover free samples of every course we offer. Our site offers many other services and surprises, including numerous free courses you can download and try out.

Starter is for ages 5-6, and for preliterate students of any age. It focuses on starting to develop literacy skills, while teaching about various subjects. Starter includes full two-year programs in Reading, History, Science, Creative Writing, and Living Your Life, courses that develop life and study skills for the youngest students. Every lesson plan at the Starter level works to develop literacy.

Elementary is for ages 7-8, and for students who are developing literacy. It includes two-year programs in Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing (which also teaches the parts of language at this level), and Living Your Life courses which develop life and study skills in preparation for more advanced studies to come.

Lower School (ages 9-10) offers two-year programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, P.E. Electives, and in various arts such as Animation, Music Theory, and Acting. At this level, students must read fairly well, and studies are progressively turned over to the student.

Upper School (ages 11-High School, and Adult Continuing Education) provides programs in Study Essentials, Reading and Spelling, History, Science, Creative Writing, Current Events, Literature Guides, P.E. Electives, and in arts such as Animation, Acting, Music Theory, and Music History.

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8 comments on “A New Tool To Handle Misbehaving Children – Pepper Spray!”

  1. […] via A New Tool To Handle Misbehaving Children – Pepper Spray! | Homeschool Under Siege | Homeschoo…. […]

  2. Whether pepper spray was warranted in this particular case or not, the use of pepper spray is still the best non-lethal weapon any police officer can employ.

  3. Sharon,

    WOW! Talk about missing the point! I get that you’re some sort of out-of-touch fanatic for the police, or perhaps a manufacturer of pepper-spray, but TWO FULL-GROWN AND SUPPOSEDLY TRAINED, ADULT MEN PEPPER SRAYED AN EIGHT YEAR OLD, while two adult teachers hid in fear. What do you MEAN “whether pepper spray was warranted”. It’s use on a CHILD can NEVER be warranted! This is OBVIOUSLY abuse of power, police brutality, cruel and unusual punishment, whatever you’d like to call it, and even THAT isn’t the point. The point of the article is that schools can’t handle children AT ALL. Sharon – go issue this sort of garbage on some pro-police blog, or promote pepper spray elsewhere, please. This is a blog about educational abuses and ideas.

  4. I remember when this happened. I thought the same thing. There was nothing else anyone could do? Where are the “adults” in this situation? It is a tragedy.

  5. I definitely have mixed feelings about this post. First, thanks to the writer for bringing this to our attention. Yep, sounds pretty messed up, inappropriate.   

    I hope the kiddo is doing ok and fear for the unintended negative feelings he’s bound to feel now toward school.

    I’m a big  believer in fostering self-direction and autonomy in children as this has been shown to be more effective in the learning process.  

    Folks handle things the way they do, hopefully with a cool head and hopefully in a manner that they think is truly warranted. In this case it’s difficult to see how it could be.  

    Another concern beyond the obvious: it’s easy to say “shame on you” and to wag the finger. Moving forward, and after the incident has been discovered, how can we 1) learn from it and understand where we went wrong; 2) do something to prevent or lessen the likelihood that it happens again; 3) encourage the proliferation of the adjusted action that doesn’t feel punitive to those involved?  

    I’d like to ask the author if they would mind speaking to one or more of these so we can improve the situation and maybe even invite a collaborative dialogue between parties involved. Maybe this is already happening? If so, please respond with info or a link so folks can engage and be informed. Thanks again and hope I added something to the discussion.

  6. Hi Wil,

    I have mixed feelings about your response to the post, as well. The act of pepper spraying a child is not merely “inappropriate” – it’s assault. It’s a crime. Against a child. It is not merely “messed up”. It’s indicative of how these authorities feel they should treat others – especially helpless others. Remember, this is a child we’re talking about. We saw similar authorities pepper-spray Occupy Wall Street protesters who were seated and peaceful. Whatever you think of the protester’s politics, this was an abuse of power and assault on the part of the “authorities”. This is clearly a law-enforcement modus operandi, and it is abusive and illegal. It’s assault.

    Moving on. “Unintended negative feelings”? Wil? What more could those teachers or policemen have done to turn this kid off to school and even education forever? I think that’s a terrible understatement of a very dire and likely result. Not to mention the devastation this may cause in the child’s view of himself.

    I believe that children should very largely dictate what they study and how they study, especially as they get into Jr High years and up. We agree there. We agree that it’s hard to see how the actions that occurred here were warranted. As to the rest, it IS clear what went wrong. Four adults felt they could not control a child and used ridiculous, excessive force to do so.

    We can do many things to make sure this sort of garbage stops happening – starting with jailing the cops who did this, firing the teachers in this “specialized school” who could not handle a special student, and my favorite – close the school. You don’t want two cops punished who pepper-sprayed a child? Do you HAVE kids, Wil? Few parents are going to agree with you on this one. You don’t want the teachers fired who had to call in the cops because they could not handle a kid. TWO grown-up (supposedly) teachers, one kid? These teachers should not be punished for incompetence? Wow, in any other profession, they’d be fired and long gone. But other professions don’t have Teacher Unions to protect their jobs AT ALL COSTS and regardless of abuses committed.

    Nope, I’d have no interest in talking to the policemen involved. They simply belong in jail. The teachers need to be looking for work.

    What you’ve added, I feel, is a good example of an over-the-top “reasonableness”, of a sort that has contributed to the ugly, dire situation we find in schools across the country today. There was a time I could have almost shared your view in this one regard, and looked for arbitration and problem-solving methods to handle this disaster. The problem is that there are THOUSANDS of such disasters in schools around the country every year, abuses of power perpetrated against children who cannot defend themselves against the adult in charge. I’m afraid I’m not willing to go there anymore. The problem is built into the system, it is systemic. This system is far too broken to fix and really needs to go.

    Our children’s well-being is at stake, and that’s where reasonableness should end.

  7. Hi Steven,

    do you give me permission to copy this article onto my own blog (www.theUnawesomeBlog.posterous.com) ? If so, tell me exactly which credit to put.

    Best regards.

  8. Hi Eric,

    Yes, of course. Credit it to Steven David Horwich.

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