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Expert Q&A

Are there rules for questioning children with disabilities who might have committed a crime?

Is it typical for children diagnosed with ADHD to confess to something they didn’t do just to stop the repeated questioning? My son was repeatedly questioned by the school vice principal until he admitted to stepping on a girls toe. He said he wanted to get to art class. The vice principal said “sometimes it may take 15 minutes to get an answer.” Can an IEP be amended so that this doesn’t happen again?


Dear Barbara,
Your question relates to whether a child can be subject to interrogation until they confess, particularly when the child has ADHD. A variety of rules govern the investigation of crimes at school, which give children less protections than adults have in similar circumstances. However, children generally are entitled to have a parent present with them when they are being interrogated and to receive the Miranda warnings.

In addition, when a child is having regular behavior problems, the child should have a behavioral intervention plan wish defines how the child’s behavior should be addressed and can provide appropriate protections for them in order to ensure that the investigation about their behavior and the resulting discipline is appropriately handled.

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