Nearly 30,000 children under the age of 10 — and a staggering 228,017 kids between the ages of 10 and 12 — have been arrested in the United States during a recent five-year span and treated like “mini-adults,” according to a report.
The stunning statistics compiled by the FBI, covering the years from 2013 to 2017, come amid the recent arrests of two 6-year-olds in Orlando that prompted the firing of an officer who restrained one child with cuffs.
In the US, 34 states have no minimum age for delinquency, while most of the rest have set the age at 10, according to government data cited by ABC News.
The federal system prefers to defer to state delinquency authorities for minors, according to the Congressional Research Service, although under the federal guidelines, the minimum age is reported to be 7.
And 24 states have no minimum age to transfer juvenile cases to adult courts, according to the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
The rate of arrests of juveniles 10 to 17 has been on the decline since hitting a peak in the mid-1990s and the arrests of those 12 and under represents just a fraction of the total made each year (more than 8.2 million in 2017), but experts argue that it is still too many.
“This is ridiculous. If we are going to treat children like this, we better think very clearly what the ramifications are, especially if we are so inclined to stop the violence,” said Lisa Thurau, head of Strategies for Youth, a Cambridge, Massachusetts, nonprofit that trains law enforcement agencies in how to handle youths.
“This is producing it and it’s also attenuating children’s connection to school,” she told ABC News.
According to the FBI’s findings, at least 26,966 children under the age of 10 were arrested between 2013 and 2017, the most recent year for which complete data is available.
An area of major concern with juvenile arrests are those in school, particularly how discipline affects students of different races and how officers are trained to deal with children.
Meralyn Kirkland, the grandmother of one of the Orlando 6-year-olds collared by a school resource officer, told ABC affiliate WFTV that her granddaughter, who is black, was arrested on suspicion of battery when she allegedly had a meltdown and kicked a staffer.
When Kirkland went to pick her up, she said, she was told the child was being fingerprinted.
“I think when they said fingerprinted is when it hit home to me,” Kirkland told WFTV. “And I’m, like, fingerprinted? And they said yes, and they escorted me into an office and on the desk in that office were two mugshot pictures of my 6-year-old granddaughter.”
The grandmother said that if the arresting officer had taken the time to inquire, he would have learned the girl is prone to tantrums because she suffers from sleep apnea.
Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon announced later that the officer had been axed for allegedly violating department policy by failing to get a supervisor’s approval for detaining a child under age 12.
Details of the arrest of another 6-year-old by the same officer were not disclosed by Rolon, who cited rules involving the privacy of minors.
“A top priority is to earn and protect the trust between the community and the officers,” Rolon said. “Because of this incident, the trust has been put in question. I apologize to the children involved and their families.”