Shocking as it may seem, similar arrests of small children, many Black, are happening nationwide. "There is a trend to criminalize minority children rather than send them to counseling or bring in their parents," says Nayyera Haq, press secretary for the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), which investigated the issue.
In March, a 7-year-old boy, Gerard Mungo, Jr., was hauled off to a Baltimore police station for allegedly riding a dirt bike on a sidewalk. Police wouldn’t discuss the case because of a pending lawsuit against the department by the boy's mother. A 2006 study of Florida public schools, conducted by civil rights organizations, found a reliance on police to manage even minor transgressions by children.
Research from the CDF cites racial prejudice as a factor contributing to the arrest of Black youngsters. And in areas like Pinellas County, Florida, Black middle and high school children accounted for more than half of the 688 school arrests made during the first semester of the 2004–2005 school year.
Then there are the long-term effects of arresting children. "If a 7-year-old is picked up off the street because he's on a bike, he comes to distrust the government," says Haq, referring to Gerard.
And if there is one thing America has a surfeit of, it's trust in government amongst inner-city minority youth.