Being a mom means getting to make certain decisions about your child's appearance and health when it comes to what's best for them — that's a statement most parents would agree with. Well, that default parent's right was broken when Denise Robinson said her daughter's hair was reportedly shaved off without her permission. Robinson is now suing the kid's program that her 7-year-old daughter, Tru, was attending when her hair was shaved off without her mom's permission. According to a local CBS Boston affiliate, Tru's "hair was very long before a clinician at the Little Heroes Home in Dracut, Massachusetts, took her to a salon where a volunteer shaved her hair off. And what's worse, no one asked Robinson if it would be OK to do that. When Robinson asked the center why they felt they could make such a huge decision for her child, employees reportedly cited a hygiene issue.
Of course, the violation of parental consent is much bigger than just a haircut. The children's care center is reviewing what happened with Robinson, but the fact remains that a biracial child's hair was shaved off because adults present claimed it was unhygienic. According to The Independent,
Little Heroes is a co-education intensive group home for children between the ages of five and 11; Tru lives there for part of the week as she suffers from complex emotional issues.
Speaking to another local news affiliate, NECN, Robinson said, "I am very upset. And I'm not going to stop being upset because I feel like my child was assaulted and violated." Robinson said she believes the decision to shave her daughter's head was rooted in racism. "I really feel like this was racially motivated," she told Essence. "None of the other girls got their hair shaved. She was the only girl who was shaved bald today. The boys weren’t even cut this low."
According to Robinson's attorney, Richard Kendell, the person who eventually ended up shaving Tru's hair also said some troubling things to her, in his opinion. Talking to CBS, Kendell said,
The volunteer informed this 7-year-old biracial child that by shaving her head, her hair would grow back straight. I find that appalling.
Fortunately Robinson has met with the care center, and it accepted full responsibility for the mistake, but that doesn't make it OK. As Robinson noted, why was it just her daughter, Tru that had all of her hair shaved off? Robinson also said that she was confused about the hygienic claim, because "her daughter had never shown any signs of head lice or bed bugs," according to The Independent.
A recent study also confirmed that black women face much more discrimination than their peers, likely because of their natural hair. The "‘Good Hair’ Study: Explicit and Implicit Attitudes Toward Black Women’s Hair," published by the Perception Institute, found that "a majority of people, regardless of race and gender, hold some bias towards women of color based on their hair." And unfortunately, it seems that this is true for children, as well. Because society has established rigid beauty standards that the world is only now starting to question, many still think that only straight, light hair is acceptable. And that's just not true. Tru's hair is beautiful just as it is, and shouldn't have been shaved, especially without her mother's permission. And if you're still confused as to why this is an issue, perhaps consider whether a center would ever do this to a white girl's hair. Because most likely, the answer is no.
Romper has reached out to The Little Heroes Group Home and has received the following response:
The Little Heroes Group Home is a residential program for children ages 5 to 11. The program employs a diverse staff that is attentive to the needs of all children. Decisions regarding grooming are based on a variety of factors, including hygiene. We cannot provide any information about any individual served by the program under federal and state law. A review of the circumstances is underway to determine what occurred and, if necessary, appropriate action will be taken.