Step one of how to make a hardened criminal: handcuff a child to a bar on the wall of a police precinct over $5 that another child alleges he stole.
According to a New York Post report, Wilson Reyes was taken from his school, PS X114, to the 44th Precinct station house in the Bronx on Dec. 4 after a call of assault and robbery was phoned into the police.
The story goes that a student dropped $5 on the ground in front of Reyes and two other children and Reyes allegedly picked it up. When accused of taking the money, Reyes fought with the child.
And those two accounts added up to assault and robbery.
The details of how long Reyes was detained by police seems to be unclear with the Reyes family attorney, Jack Yankowitz, claiming Reyes was held for 10 hours and the precinct citing that the boy was taken to the precinct house some time after 3 p.m. and released around 7:45 p.m.
Whatever amount of time Wilson Reyes was held in the precinct house, handcuffed to a wall, was too much.
Reyes's school refused to comment on the grounds that the incident took place off campus, according to the Post.
Reyes was, however, picked up from his school when the police decided to take him to the station house.
What is not disclosed is who filed the report against the 7-year-old, resulting in the child being removed from his school by police.
Seth Acevedo is named as the child against whom the crimes were inflicted.
Acevedo's father, Santiago Acevedo stated that “there were always teasing him because of his weight." Acevedo added "sometimes he didn’t even want to go to school because of it,” when noting that his son had allegedly been bullied by Reyes.
It is always unfortunate when a child suffers at the hand of a bully. That is why parents, educators and those sworn to uphold the law must handle those situations in ways that will minimize the risk of the same unacceptable behavior happening again.
How handcuffing a 7-year-old teaches him not to be a bully is beyond me. Given, Reyes was not taken in for being a bully, but for suspicion of assault and robbery. But it seems the underlying issue here is just that, bullying.
The fact that police can go into an elementary school and take someone's 7-year-old child and handcuff them over a fight and $5 that are missing is unthinkable, sad and just plain wrong.
This is a failed attempt to handle a situation between young children - not teens, not young adults. I doubt Reyes learned any lesson other than to fear the police.
The Post report includes the fact that "legal papers say another classmate later admitted the theft."
Frances Mendez, Reyes's mother, took the now infamous photo of her son handcuffed to a bar on the wall of the precinct.
Mendez's reaction to the scene? “It was horrible. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
Any parent would be shocked and livid to learn of what transpired that day. Kids should not be treated like criminals when their behaviors may cause for disciplinary action.
And, in this case, it may very well be a false accusation that forced this child to go through such an experience.
Seven-year-old children should look up to police as those that are here to protect them, not as people who will chain you to a wall when they think you've done something bad.
Young kids are developing and growing each day. Teaching them right from wrong is a part our jobs as parents. When that opportunity is taken away and replaced with a horrid act, one can only wonder what the long term effects of the incident will ultimately be.