As I read to my young son, I learned that some things in children’s stories are presented as universal truths.
Vegetables are good for you. You must brush your teeth. Cops are there to protect us.
But with the horrific news that another child — a 15-year-old girl of mixed race — was strip-searched by police, with such devastating effects on her mental health that she later attempted suicide, I can’t help but wonder on how to give my child a more honest message about the state of policing in the UK.
Whether it’s sending racist messages ridiculing our murders, allegedly using excessive and unnecessary violence against us, or labeling children as potential terrorists because of misspellings, people of color are not safe from the police.
As with Child Q, the details of this child, who has been given the alias Olivia, are hardly believable — but worryingly unsurprising. What could ever justify cutting open a menstruating teenager’s underwear in front of adult men, as Olivia’s mom claims?
What tragic systemic failure results in state officials abusing an autistic child with a history of self-harm in order to handcuff and strip search them? People of color are criminalized even when they are innocent – policed even when we need protection. Even our children.
As a teacher, mother and British ethnic minority, the idea of a mixed race child being treated in this way is appalling. Teachers and other public servants, like social workers and doctors, have a duty to protect and protect children, and those who are vulnerable need that safety net even more.
People of color are not safe from the police
It is unthinkable that a child – even if accused of a crime – should be treated in such a degrading way.
People have pointed to “coming of age” — the implicit bias that leads people to treat black children like adults — but this seems to embrace the idea that even black adults should be treated that way.
How many white kids are strip searched at school?
We have an epidemic of racism in this country, ingrained in everything from individual perceptions to government policies.
From people voting for Brexit over immigration fears, to a tabloid columnist calling migrants roaches, to the shipping of vulnerable refugees being treated inhumanely in camps around the world, to failing to act while they’re at sea drown.
In my view, people of color in Britain are being systematically and routinely dehumanized The police amplify this, cement this, and terrorize communities with this notion.
Ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by poverty and unemployment and are more likely to live in areas with higher crime rates. And yet we see time and time again that the police sometimes can, instead of protecting the same communities pose a threat.
The Tory government has repeatedly promised to “tackle crime” and yet the reality for ethnic minorities is traumatic, potentially dangerous and far from comforting.
Although blacks make up around 3.5% of the UK population, they make up 13% of prison inmates and over a quarter if you include people of color.
Non-whites are 81% more likely to go to prison for felonies. Black people are nine times more likely to face searches than whites and twice as likely to be fined for breaking lockdown rules as whites.
A sobering fact considering how the people running our country got away with a £50 fine and half-baked apologies after Partygate. A crime “crackdown” that seems aimed only at some.
And the problem is that the situation is not getting better.
Everyone feels that What happens if the police are found to have acted in a discriminatory manner? One has learned, we are told. Training is set up, we are reassured. But what can diversity training and community conferences do for a ministry with a rotting core?
Mandatory black history lessons for the police and apologies are not enough. The face of policing needs to change – the whole system needs to be uprooted and overhauled if we really care about people of color being safe in this country.
Policing means protection for some people – for others it means racism in uniform, armed with a taser – or a gun. The cases of Kind Q and “Olivia” must offer a wake-up call.
We cannot continue to adhere to a system where vulnerable children of color face humiliation and abuse by the state.
We cannot continue to see police patrolling our school corridors as if this would provide security for children of color who are suspects rather than protected.
Do you have a story you would like to share? Contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Share your views in the comments below.
MORE: Autistic girl, 15, ‘attempted suicide after Met Police patrol’
MORE : Why racist ‘coming of age’ means black kids are seen as guilty
MORE : Who is Sue Gray and how to read her full Partygate account?
Get the top news, feel-good stories, analysis and more
https://metro.co.uk/2022/05/26/the-cases-of-child-q-and-olivia-proves-that-policing-needs-to-change-16717330/ The cases of Kind Q and "Olivia" prove that policing needs to change