We stand in solidarity with Child Q, her family and supporters, and all People Who Experience Racism (PWER) and who have and who continue to experience violence and brutality at the hands of our society and institutions. We join calls for an end to the persistent and widespread violence perpetrated against Black bodies, and for meaningful, radical and sustainable change to happen now.
We also recognise the power in naming people’s experiences, because only once we have the language to describe what is happening to us can we begin to call it out and speak truth to power. That’s why we’re sharing just some of the definitions that we’ve found especially helpful in communicating our understanding of Child Q’s experiences, and the impact this case has had on us…
- RACISM- The school staff’s unfounded suspicion around Child Q smelling of cannabis and their false accusation that Child Q was therefore in possession of this substance, was inherently racist and an example of racial profiling informed by harmful stereotypes around Black identity.
- CRIMINALISATION- The involvement of police in this situation was a completely disproportionate response by the school staff, who should always be incredibly sensitive to the negative impact that police presence can have on the wellbeing of all children and young people. The subsequent unfounded strip-search actioned by the police is a clear example of the violent criminalisation of Black people.
- SAFE SPACE- Schools are meant to be a safe space for children to learn, grow and thrive. Children, young people, and parent(s)/carer(s) of every identity, should be able to trust that school staff are there to provide professional, empathic and non-judgemental support. School staff should be mindful of how vulnerable young people are, and any suspicion of possession of substances should be met with curiosity and concern around the risk of exploitation, rather than punitive practices that blame, criminalise and ultimately prevent young people from being able to engage with support.
- ADULTIFICATION BIAS- This is where children of colour, particularly Black girls, are viewed as being much older than they are. For example, despite Child Q being a 15 year old child, she was instead treated like an adult by both the school staff and Police officers, and subjected to an intimate examination without parental consent and support or an appropriate adult present.
- HYPERSEXUALISATION- The hypersexualisation of Black bodies, which is rooted in both the historical slavery and sexual exploitation of Black people as well as unhealthy narratives and imagery in modern media, means that Black people like Child Q are often not given the same agency over their own bodies, which are instead seen as public property.
- WHITE PRIVILEGE- There are some white people and parents of white children who will feel shocked by Child Q’s treatment and be unable to imagine this abusive behaviour being perpetrated against their children. This is because it is statistically less likely to happen to a white child. For example, out of the 25 other children strip-searched by police in Hackney during 2020/2021, only 2 were white.
- TRAUMA- Child Q has been incredibly brave, open and honest about the negative impact that this experience has had on her wellbeing. Having your personal boundaries disrespected in such a violent way can absolutely trigger a trauma response in our brains, something that impacts us all differently and can have long lasting consequences.
- INJUSTICE – Child Q’s experience happened in 2020 and 2 years later she is still waiting for an outcome. Like many survivors, Child Q has been waiting far too long for her experiences to be recognised and validated, for an apology to be issued, and for justice- all of which are crucial to many survivors’ healing journeys.
If you are finding the news around Child Q’s experiences difficult or triggering, you are not alone. We offer a range of support services, such as an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) service, including a specialist PWER ISVA (that’s an ISVA who specialises in supporting People Who Experience Racism), as well as a specialist Children & Young People Service.