Child Q: Demanding #Justice4ChildQ & Protection of Black Girls

Child Q: Demanding #Justice4ChildQ & Protection of Black Girls

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Vinna Best started this petition to Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London) and

My name is Vinna Best. I worry because Black girls are still growing up in societies where they are not treated as children who need protecting instead they are treated as adults and criminals who need to be punished... Because Black girls matter too. 

Trigger warning

On Monday, 14 March 2022, a public report was released about a Black British school girl's experience of harm by the teachers and MET police officers at a school in Hackney, London, in December 2020. Wrongly accused of having cannabis, the 15-year-old known as Child Q was made to bend over, spread her legs and use her hands to spread her buttocks and remove her sanitary towel - Child Q was menstruating. 

This horrendous and humiliating violation of Child Q’s body shows a systematic failure by many professionals who should have protected this child. As a result, Child Q is now in therapy and self-harming - this traumatic incident in which she has suffered harm has changed her life forever and has impacted her family and friends. It is only right that there are clear consequences for the school and the Metropolitan Police.

Link to the Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review: Child Q

What happened?

School teachers wrongly accused Child Q of carrying cannabis. 
The teachers said that Child Q smelt of cannabis and called the police. 
The MET police officers arrived at the school.
The police officers stripped-searched the child without adult supervision. 
They caused trauma, distress and embarrassment to Child Q by making her expose her intimate body parts, knowing she was menstruating.
Child Q was not allowed to use the toilet.
Her parents were not present, not notified and did not give consent.
Also, the Safer Schools Officer were not notified before the incident. 
No appropriate adult was present at the strip search, including no teachers, parents, or social services.
No drugs were found on Child Q during the strip search or during an examination of the room that Child Q was waiting in beforehand.
Regardless of drugs or no-drugs, this is not how a child is supposed to be treated.

Adultification bias and misogynoir against Black girls are why Child Q's was harmed.

These biases play a role in the increasing use of harsh discipline against and discriminatory treatment of Black girls in school, law enforcement, and interactions with authority figures.

"Child Q should never have been strip-searched. Across many of the professionals involved that day, there was an absence of a safeguarding first approach to their practice." 

"Racism (whether deliberate or not) was likely to have been an influencing factor in the decision to undertake a strip search." stated the report.

Black girls are presumed to be less innocent, needing less protection and nurture. This stems from the negative 'strong black women' and 'angry black women' stereotypes and racism, sexism, and poverty. As a result, there are countless told and untold experiences of Black girls facing discipline for things they did not do or receiving harsher punishment in comparison to their peers. The unacceptable incident of Child's Q case is one that has been made public. 

Views and feelings of Child Q

“Someone walked into the school, where I was supposed to feel safe, took me away from the people who were supposed to protect me and stripped me naked, while on my period. 

“…On the top of preparing for the most important exams of my life. I can't go a single day without wanting to scream, shout, cry or just give up.”

“I don’t know if I’m going to feel normal again. I don’t know how long it will take to repair my box. But I do know this can't happen to anyone, ever again.” “All the people that allowed this to happen need to be held responsible. I was held responsible for a smell.”

“…… I need to know that the people who have done this to me can't do it to anyone else ever again. In fact so NO ONE else can do this to any other child in their care.” 

“Things need to change with all organisations involved. Even I can see that.”

The school did not notify Child Q's Mother. Her Mother's views:

“(Professionals) treated her as an adult. (She was) searched as an adult.”

“…the incident that happened (was) treated not as a safeguarding issue. (It was) treated as a criminal matter.” 

Child Q told her mother about the horrific incident in which her mother took her to their family GP, who made a referral for psychological support. As a result, Hackney Children and Families Services (Hackney CFS) were contacted.

Call for action: Justice for Child Q. 

The educational system and the Metropolitan Police need to be made accountable so that this never happens again:

The teachers who called the police and allowed Child Q to be stripped searched without any appropriate adult - we demand their dismissal and an urgent review of safeguarding procedures within schools and demand restoration of parental consent. This is a safeguarding issue, the teachers should never be able to work with children again.

The Police officers who are under investigation by the police watchdog over the incident in December 2020 remain on full duties - The police need to be dismissed.

The Initial Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel claimed the incident that happened to Child Q did not meet the criteria for review. There needs to be a review of the review process.

Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) are completing their own investigations, but this is not good enough. There are concerns of conflicts of interest and further bias producing inaccurate and ineffective findings.

 

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