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News & Views - April, 1994 Issue #27 

by: Joey Dusina
Helping Hands
Orange, California

(Helping Hands helps parents get their child to a program the parents have selected when the parents are unable to do it by themselves.)  

ITEM: In a recent incident in the State of Minnesota, two friends of a family were helping the parents escort a 16 year old adolescent to a program. While they were at the airport, the adolescent approached a police officer and informed the officer he was being kidnapped. The parents and the two friends were held for questioning to prove who they were and what they were doing. As it turns out, in Minnesota, a 16 year old can not be committed to a program by his/her parents without the adolescent's permission. When the parents were last spoken to, the adolescent did not go to the program and was not living at home! 

ITEM: In another recent incident in the State of Washington, two transport agents were hired by a family. They went to the parent's home and while leaving the house with the adolescent, an altercation started with the adolescent hitting one transport agent with a bottle, breaking his nose, and kicking the other into a wall, breaking his hand. During the altercation, one of the transport agents sprayed the adolescent with pepper spray. In turn, the adolescent escaped and locked himself into the bathroom. While this was all happening, someone had phoned the police. When they arrived at the home, they advised the transport agents to leave, since there had been three complaints of possible child abductions the previous month. 

To those of us in the business, the stories of bungled transports and what I consider mistreatment of children during transports (i.e. handcuffing or tieing them up, using leg sprints, treating the children as if they are criminals etc.) seem to be increasing. A major cause is we are starting to see new transport agencies appearing everywhere. Some of them are probably sincere, but don't understand the child is not a hardened criminal and deserves to be treated with a little respect despite what he/she has done. Others might see parents as an easy target in their time of need and so see an opportunity to make a fast dollar in the transport of children. By hiring or recommending these individuals, a school, educational consultant or parent may be opening themselves up to the same grief described in the above situations, and perhaps even legal action. 

The way the adolescent is treated has a great bearing on the adolescent's attitude and the way the authorities will look at a situation. A transport agent should be able to have the child in a cooperative spirit and/or at least an acceptable mood for travel. When untrained individuals are involved, you will often observe fighting and kicking, and the use of restraints during the transport. 

The liabilities of choosing to do your own transports or recommending untrained individuals, could leave those who are involved wide open for a possible assault and/or an abduction charge, which could lead to the possible closure of the business. 

To avoid problems that can occur during an adolescent's transport, first do your research in finding a transport agency that has excellent references and background in the field of working with adolescents. Any one can say they have experience with adolescents, but doing your research is the only way to insure that the information is correct. 

Transport agencies should know the laws of the city, county, state and/or country to where the intervention will be taking place. By keeping educated and aware of current laws, transport agencies, parents and the school or program will avoid any legal complications that could hamper a transport. Equipped with this information, trained agents can then take the appropriate measures to assure a successful transport. Following the above steps will insure the protection of the school, program, educational consultant, the transport agency and the parent or guardian. 

It is important to remember we are all here to help adolescents and their families and to insure that the adolescent arrives safely at the program or school. 

Copyright 1994, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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