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Thursday, April 21, 2011


Special-ed student, 7, handcuffed by cops

Special-ed student Joseph Anderson, 7, handcuffed by cops at Queens school after Easter egg tantrum

Meredith Kolodner

Thursday, April 21st 2011, 4:00 AM

Special-education student Joseph Anderson, 7, has been 'really traumatized' since he was put in handcuffs at his Maspeth, Queens, school, says his mother, Jessica Anderson.
Craig Warga/News
Special-education student Joseph Anderson, 7, has been 'really traumatized' since he was put in handcuffs at his Maspeth, Queens, school, says his mother, Jessica Anderson.
Cops handcuffed a 7-year-old at a Queens school after he became upset while decorating an Easter egg, his mom said.

Special-education student Joseph Anderson, a first-grader at Public School 153 in Maspeth, was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center in metal cuffs, even though his mother told school officials she was on her way to pick him up, mom Jessica Anderson said.

"He was crying and saying, 'I want Mommy,'" Anderson said. "Why handcuff him? Why get the cops involved? He's only 7."

The little boy has begun wetting himself in the middle of the day and throwing up since the April 13 incident, his distraught mom said.

"If he hears an ambulance, he runs under the bed and screams, 'They're going to get me,'" said the single mom. "He's really traumatized. I don't let him watch the news anymore, because if he sees cops, he cries."

City Education Department officials said school staff took the drastic step to protect the boy and his classmates.

"The school tried to defuse the situation and then called for outside assistance when there was a concern the child would harm himself or others," department spokeswoman Marge Feinberg said.

Anderson said the school called her about 12:30 p.m. to tell her Joseph - who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, delayed speech and emotional problems - was not having a good day, and she said she would pick him up.

Turns out, things were far worse than she imagined. The boy told her he became upset because the color on the egg he was painting didn't look the way he wanted, and staffers threatened to send him to the hospital if he didn't calm down.

Scared, the boy then jumped up on the table and said, "I just want my mommy," his mother said.

Anderson didn't get there fast enough. She left her job in Manhattan and arrived at the Maspeth school at 1:45 p.m., but her son was already gone. She didn't find out about the handcuffs until she arrived at the hospital, and a nurse told her how upset her son had been.

"I was crying. I broke down," she said. "They know that my son is special ed. It's like they're trying to get rid of him, and it worked because I'm not sending him back there."

The NYPD defended cuffing the kid, saying in a statement that he was "acting in a threatening manner." A source also said he was waving scissors.

"He was a danger to himself and others in the classroom," a spokesman said. "He started spitting and cursing at the officers. The handcuffs were used to restrain the child because of his behavior. He was a danger to himself."

This is the third time the school has sent Joseph to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. The school suspended the boy for two weeks.

Advocates say Joseph's trauma is not an isolated incident.

"I've seen far too many cases of kids this young handcuffed and thrown into ambulances for behavior at school," said Kim Sweet of Advocates for Children. "Just imagine being a little kid and having people come, clamp your hands behind your back and throw you in an ambulance."

The Daily News has reported several cases of handcuffing young children, including a 12-year-old Queens girl cuffed last year for doodling on her desk and a 5-year-old who was cuffed in 2008 for misbehaving in his kindergarten class.

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