Four-year-olds handcuffed for refusing to nap

Filed under: Preschoolers, Development/Milestones: Babies, Day Care & Education

On November 17, 2006, Jaden Diaz and Christopher Brito were both four-year-old preschoolers at a public school in Bronx, New York. On that day, they had a substitute teacher, who they say was unhappy with them and another boy for refusing to take a nap. They claim the teacher led them to an empty room and left them alone there. According to lawyer Scott Agulnick, that is when things took a turn for the worse. He says a school-safety officer came into the room and handcuffed the boys, telling them that they would never see their parents again.

"He was police," Jaden, now 6, says. "He said, 'You know what happens when you don't go to sleep in there? . . . 'When you go to jail, you're not going to have no fun, no TV, no toys.' "

Although Jaden says that he wasn't handcuffed, his mother, Sasha Diaz, claims that is not what he told her shortly after the incident. "It took me about a day to get it out of him. He didn't want to tell me . . . I don't know if he thought it was his fault," she said.

Christopher Brito, now 5, says he was restrained. "I wasn't shot, but my hands were tied," he told his mother, Vasso Brito.

It isn't clear who the third boy was or what his story is, but the parents of Jaden and Christopher are now suing the city for unspecified damages. "Failure to comply with nap time is hardly an offense that warrants being handcuffed, or threatened, for that matter. Nothing would've warranted that," says Agulnick.

The boys' claims may sound far-fetched and unbelievable, but they aren't the only children in a New York school to make such accusations. A 10-year-old, mentally-challenged girl in Brooklyn and a 5-year-old boy in Queens have also recently claimed to have been handcuffed by school safety officers.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.