After receiving 1.2 million views on his YouTube video, Stuart Chaifetz revealed a growing trend among parents of special needs children. Chaifetz secretly wired his son with autism to an audio recorder hoping to find out why he had been acting out — Chaifetz discovered that his son’s teacher was verbally abusing him. Like Chaifetz, an increasing number of parents are wiring their non-communicable, disabled children when they suspect abuse at school. But, in many states, secretly wiring students is a violation of a teacher’s right to privacy. This law leaves many vulnerable students at risk of further abuse.
To protect the rights of both teacher and student, judges should authorize Child Protective Services to wire non-communicable disabled students if signs of abuse are present. This warrant would resolve any legal issues, while protecting non-communicable, disabled children in a timely and impartial manner.
Right now child abuse cases are only investigated through observation. Child Protective Services — the agency in charge of protecting children's safety and health — does not currently cover child abuse by teachers.
Abuse by teachers is supposed to be handled by school administrators; unfortunately the administrators do not always take action to stop the situation — as was seen in the case of Chaifetz's son. Involving Child Protective Services would reduce this dead-end bureaucracy.
An allotment of a warrant to Child Protective Services would also expedite the process of obtaining a warrant for a wire. Child Protective Services is supposed to react promptly to any accusations of abuse and investigate immediately: Concrete signals allow Child Protective Services to give enough evidence to obtain a warrant for a wire.
Making suspicion of child abuse an automatic cause for placing a wire on a non-communicable disabled child would solve any legal issues to the right of privacy. Under federal law, a judge can issue a warrant for interception of oral communication if two premises are met: 1) the crime is dangerous to life, limb, or property; and 2) the crime would result in a one-year prison sentence. Teacher abuse, classified as a form of child abuse, satisfies both requirements for a wire.
Abuse in schools can carry a one-year prison term. In one case, a teacher was sentenced to one year in prison for letting a developmentally delayed child burn her tongue with hot sauce. Another teacher is on trial for pouring hot sauce on crayons to get autistic children to stop eating them. With the legal permit for a wire, parents would be better able to monitor their non-communicable, disabled child for abuses at school.
A non-communicable child cannot express a need for help if they are abused. Yet, the law prohibits recording devices without both parties consent in elementary and secondary school classrooms, which leaves parents with no way to monitor their child.
Immediately authorizing a wire for non-communicable children would protect a teachers’ right to privacy, while also protecting disabled children from abuse. Such a law could even be extended to other cases of child and disabled person's abuse in the hopes of further protecting vulnerable groups.