‘An Apology Is Just Not Enough For Child Q’

The strip-search of a Black girl by The Metropolitan Police has prompted outrage. The incident took place at her school, without an adult present and with the knowledge she was menstruating.

Child school

by Aaliyah Harry |
Updated on

Before December 2020 "Child Q", a 15-year-old Black girl, was described as a ‘happy-go-lucky’ and ‘bubbly child’ – she was a student role model and was awarded the role of prefect. In December 2020 when she was taken out of an exam and strip searched by the Met Police, without adult supervision and whilst she was on her period. Her intimate body parts were forcibly exposed and she was made to take off her sanitary pad.

After no drugs were found, she was ordered to reuse the sanitary pad and was sent back on her way to the exam, all because her teacher wrongly suspected they smelled cannabis on her. Now, this once vibrant child’s light has been dimmed. Her maternal aunt now describes Child Q as a'timid recluse who hardly speaks, self-harms and needs therapy.'

‘Someone walked into school, where I was supposed to feel safe, took me away from the people who were supposed to protect me and stripped me naked while on my period,’ says Child Q herself has said of the incident.

Unfortunately, this horrific case of abuse is not an isolated incident and Black Londoners are alarmingly overrepresented. Recent data shows in the past five years, the MET Police conducted 57,733 strip searches on Black people. So, 33.5% of strip searches were conducted on Black people when only 11.7% of Londoners are black. To contrast, 27% of strip searches were conducted on White British people who make up 44.9% of Londoners. Furthermore, 9,088 strip searches were conducted on children, which includes 2,360 of children under the age of 16.

To take the most vulnerable in society, a child, and push them into a situation that further violates all human rights is unforgivable.

The Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review into the case admitted that it was highly likely adultification bias had been a factor. It further concluded that the strip search should never have happened and racism 'was likely to have been an influencing factor'.

We cannot ignore the clear racial bias and profiling within this case. To the teachers and police, the fact that she was a black girl made her automatically guilty. Furthermore, the adultification of young black girls is a prevalent issue in society and instrumental in the handling of Child Q. Adults tend to perceive Black children as being older than they are because they see them as more 'streetwise.' This strips them of a childhood, thrusting them into an onslaught of trauma beyond their years. This bias is harmful and destroying generations.

Like clockwork, the MET Police have apologised. Det Supt Dan Rutland, of the Met's Central East Command, said, 'It is truly regrettable and on behalf of the Met Police I would like to apologise to the child concerned, her family and the wider community.' But now, nor ever will an apology be enough to repair the profound damage this young girl has suffered. To take the most vulnerable in society, a child, and push them into a situation that further violates all human rights is unforgivable. Justice is the only answer for Child Q.

From top to bottom there was an abhorrent lack of care for this child. The teachers who were supposed to safeguard her at school failed her and the MET Police, an organisation who claim to protect and serve our community, also failed her. The teachers also have questions to answer Why were the police called? Why were her parents not informed first? The fact that the school's first response was to call the police on an apparently non-threatening student should alarm us all.

‘I feel like I’m locked in a box, and no one can see or cares that I just want to go back to feeling safe again,' says Child Q

The experiences of Child Q are just another addition to disturbinglylong list of scandals for the Met Police. It begs the question as to how many more "apologies" do we need to see before change is enforced? Sarah Everard, Nicole Smallman and Bibba Henry, to name but a few have suffered at the hands of Met Police - how many more women and girls will there be?

We are witnessing the causal destruction of a young girls life, all because the adults in her environment chose to harm her rather than protect her. Child Q put what needs to come next perfectly in the review, ‘All the people that allowed this to happen need to be held responsible. I was held responsible for a smell.’

READ MORE: For The Met Police To Build Trust Among Women It Must Get Its Own House In Order

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