A Pennsylvania bus driver, Juliet Pratt, has been arrested and charged after being accused of duct-taping a 10-year-old boy with Down syndrome to his seat on the school bus. According to CBS News Philadelphia, Pratt admitted to the District Attorney’s office that this was not the first time she had used duct tape to restrain the boy.
On March 8, police were called to Hillcrest Elementary School regarding a school bus driver who assaulted the boy. Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer explained that the child was already seated in a district-supplied safety harness when Pratt began to place duct tape on him. The child was not causing any issues that would have warranted such a reaction from the bus driver.
Pratt is facing charges of unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, endangering the welfare of a child, and assault. The news of this incident has sparked outrage as authorities review the case.
Using duct tape on a child who was already fully restrained in the vehicle’s harness was not only inexcusable but also dangerous, Stollsteimer said. A child restrained in such a way would be unable to free themselves from the tape in the event of an accident, which could lead to severe harm or even death.
The Upper Darby School District has expressed its cooperation with the ongoing investigation. A personnel matter has also been noted regarding the incident. Pratt is no longer driving school buses at this time.
Bus drivers are responsible for transporting children safely to and from school, and incidents like this one only serve to underline how important it is for everyone to prioritize the safety of our children.