-Tara, could you tell me what inspired you to start Camera's in Special Needs Classrooms?
My son has moderate Autism, OCD, and TICS. May 10th 2012, he came home and said, "Teacher mean to me today." My thoughts were teachers can come off mean, that maybe she was just telling him to sit down or something. Well, later that day we met up with Corey's friend in his classroom. He mentioned that Corey was crying (meltdown) because he forgot his money. They teacher's aide came over to Corey, hit him in arm, grabbed his forearm, yanking his arm till she was face to face with Corey, and she screamed in his face. Corey agreed what had happened. I looked at Corey to see if he had bruising and he had four finger bruises on his forearm, matching the boys story. I then became furious. I took the photos of his arm. The next morning I went up to the school to let them know what the children said had happened to Corey, by the aide. The school said they would investigate and get back to me. They called me back a few hours later and said that, the children made up the story. That the aide never touched him. I asked if there were cameras, so I can see if the boys made up the story. They said no cameras. I then made a police report, and showed police photos of my sons arm. They said I can file a report to keep it on record, but told me there was not much they could do since it involved school staff. I shared my story and concerns with my group on Facebook called, Dealing with Autism. Many had stories of unexplained marks and bruises, neglect, abuse, and more. So I decided that people need to be aware of this so changes will happen. I started Cameras in special needs classrooms May 15th 2012.
--Why do you feel that states need to take this seriously, and have these cameras in ALL special needs classrooms?
Many of these children can not communicate for themselves. Many of them are not believed. Some childrens' lives are very fragile and need constant care.
What would be the benefit(s) of having these cameras in the classroom?
Cameras will help these children have a voice in school, and help staff with any false accusations. Parents from all 50 states have shared their stories and concerns. Abuse and neglect are happening all over. This can catch bad staff and remove them right away, preventing more abuse. Staff can also use these cameras as a great teaching tool. To learn about each child's needs. Camera can also prevent abuse. Staff members mqy think twice before harming a child. Cameras will not STOP abuse, but cameras will CATCH abuse.
What ways can we, as a community help this vision come to light? What can we do?
I stress that everyone calls, e-mails, and visits with their State Representatives, Senators, and Congress. Focus on the ones who specialize in the Education. Also, make a petition for your state, and have as many sign this petition as you can. Petitions can help back you up. Stress safety of the children and staff should be first priority. When you see children coming home with unexplained marks and bruises, neglected, raped, and killed while in staff care, that is not safe. I'm asking everyone to stand together on this fight for cameras in special needs classrooms. Share your stories and concerns. Your child may have a great teacher and staff but still something could go wrong. One day I would like to see them expand to all classrooms. Baby steps due to funding. Most vulnerable childrens' classrooms first.
I look at the photos above and I become sick. I can't believe that anyone could harm a child in such a way. I can't believe that schools won't step up to the plate and provide these cameras to assure the safety of our children. I can't believe that we, as special needs parents always have to fight so hard for our children. Safety should be a given in a school setting. This has to stop!
To follow Tara, or to find out more on what YOU can do for your children, and many others in your state, check out Cameras In Special Needs Classrooms.
Thank you Tara for taking the time to answer these questions, and for providing me with permission to use your photos.