Our education solicitor Florence Cole has been representing Child Q since the case was referred to her in 2020.
Florence was shocked as she had never come across a case of a child being strip-searched by the police at school, with no appropriate adult present.
The case is appalling and one of the many cases she’ll never be able to forget. However, in her work Florence frequently encounters cases of Black children being disproportionately sanctioned by schools and unfairly treated as though they were adults – children as young as 5 in some cases.
The over-policing of Black children is mirrored by the disproportionate sanctioning and exclusions of so many Black children in schools, which Florence and her colleagues see in their school exclusion and education law cases.
A school’s first concern should be safeguarding the students in their care. No child should go through such a traumatising experience in a place where they should be safe.
Florence and her team are continuing to support Child Q through this process.
Unfortunately, we know from our work, that this appalling case illustrates a wider problem in our schools and communities about the treatment of Black children.
We frequently come across cases where schools and the police have failed to treat them as children first and foremost causing significant harm - whether by putting a child at further risk of criminal exploitation by excluding them from school or holding them overnight in police cells.
All too often the State’s response to Black children is to sanction and criminalise instead of keeping them safe. How many more children will have to suffer significant trauma before action is taken to ensure that all children have their rights respected and are kept from harm’s way?
Aika Stephenson, Legal Director, Just for Kids Law