In an age dominated with news of school shootings, school lockdowns, police shootings of unarmed citizens (including children), SWAT team raids gone awry (leaving children devastated and damaged), reports of school resource officers tasering and shackling unruly students, and public schools undergoing lockdowns and active drills, I find myself wrestling with the question: how do you prepare a child for life in the American police state?
Every parent lives with a fear of the dangers that prey on young children: the predators who lurk at bus stops and playgrounds, the traffickers who make a living by selling young bodies, the peddlers who push drugs that ensnare and addict, the gangs that deal in violence and bullets, the drunk drivers, the school bullies, the madmen with guns, the diseases that can end a life before it's truly begun, the cynicism of a modern age that can tarnish innocence, and the greed of a corporate age that makes its living by trading on young consumers.
It's difficult enough raising a child in a world ravaged by war, disease, poverty and hate, but when you add the police state into the mix--with its battlefield mindset, weaponry, rigidity, surveillance, fascism, indoctrination, violence, etc.--it becomes near impossible to guard against the toxic stress of police shootings, SWAT team raids, students being tasered and shackled, lockdown drills, and a growing unease that some of the monsters of our age come dressed in government uniforms.
Kids understand accidents: sometimes drinks get spilled, dishes get broken, people slip and fall and hurt themselves, or you bump into someone without meaning to, and they get hurt. As long as it wasn't intentional and done with malice, you forgive them and you move on.
Police shootings of unarmed people--of children and old people and disabled people--can't just be shrugged off as accidents, however.
Tamir Rice was no accident. Cleveland police shot and killed the 12-year-old, who was seen playing on a playground with a pellet gun. Surveillance footage shows police shooting the boy two seconds after getting out of a moving patrol car. Incredibly, the shooting was deemed "reasonable" and "justified" by two law enforcement experts who concluded that the police use of force "did not violate Tamir's constitutional rights."
Aiyana Jones was also no accident. The 7-year-old was killed after a Detroit SWAT team launched a flash-bang grenade into her family's apartment, broke through the door and opened fire, hitting the little girl who was asleep on the living room couch. The cops weren't even in the right apartment.
A Georgia SWAT team launched a flash-bang grenade into the house in which Baby Bou Bou, his three sisters and his parents were staying. The grenade landed in the 2-year-old's crib, burning a hole in his chest and leaving him with scarring that a lifetime of surgeries will not be able to easily undo.