Child Q, School Searches and Children’s Rights


  • Simon Flacks



The troubling case of “Child Q”, regarding a black girl who was strip-searched at her school while on her period in 2020, highlighted the discriminatory and often brutal treatment experienced by young people at the hands of the police. This commentary considers the response to the incident, focusing on the local authority’s use of a children’s rights framework to assess the actions of both police and schoolteachers. It compares the scrutiny of police powers to stop and search minors in public with the lack of focus on powers to search pupils in schools, noting the potential for disproportionality and the need for systematic data collection. It draws attention away from the focus on individual police failures and towards systematic problems with disciplining school pupils, focusing on suspicions about drug use—and the smell of cannabis specifically—as a potential source of inequitable outcomes.

Keywords: drugs; racism; education; policing; exclusions.


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Special Section: Children's Rights: Contemporary Issues in Law and Society (Part 1)