Police Handcuff a 6-Year Old Student

I wasn’t there so I should be careful not to be too critical, but I can’t help but wonder how calling the police on a 6-year old having a severe tantrum is the right way to go. I feel this drastic step is a very bad look for the school. It gives the message that all is not right at the place where parents trust that their child is safe and well cared for. When a 6-year old presents such a risk that police are required, it doesn’t say a great deal about the school’s capacity to deal with problem students, especially older ones.

Police in Georgia defended their decision Tuesday to handcuff and arrest a 6-year-old elementary student after the school called to report a juvenile had assaulted a principal and was damaging school property.

Milledgeville police said they were called to Creekside Elementary School on Friday for an unruly juvenile, who was allegedly throwing a tantrum.

According to their report, when the officer arrived, he observed kindergartner Salecia Johnson on the floor of the principal’s office screaming and crying.

The officer stated in the report that he noticed damage to school property and tried numerous times to calm the girl, who eventually “pulled away and began actively resisting and fighting with me.”

“The child was then placed in handcuffs for her safety and the officer proceeded to bring her down to the police station,” said Chief Dray Swicord.

Despite the girl’s behavior, her family said police should not have been involved.

“I don’t think she misbehaved to the point where she should have been handcuffed and taken downtown to the police department,” Johnson’s aunt, Candace Ruff, told CNN affiliate WMAZ.

The girl was released to Ruff after numerous attempts to reach her parents failed, the police report said.

Swicord said his department still has not heard from the girl’s mother or father.

But the parents have spoken to reporters.

“Call the police? Is that the first step?” Johnson’s mother, Constance Ruff, asked.

Johnson’s mother said she wondered if there was “any other kind of intervention” the school could have used to help her daughter.

“They don’t have no business calling the police and handcuffing my child,” said Salecia’s father, Earnest Johnson.

I also wonder why the school couldn’t have dealt with this in-house, or at least call a family member before resorting to getting the police involved.

Having said that, I feel that the parents should have declined interviews and resisted finger-pointing, and instead focussed on the behaviour of their child. That child needs to know that her behaviour was unacceptable and dangerous. By focussing on the school’s handling of the incident, the parents seem to be sending the message that this behaviour was somehow excusable.

I am also quite comfortable with the police’s handling of the situation. Once called, they have every right to use handcuff should they deem it necessary to subdue the child.

There are millions of loving parents out there with often a lack of choice when it comes to the schools their child can go to. They need to have the confidence that if an incident erupts the school has the wherewithal to deal with the problem in a calm and thorough manner.

By calling the police on a 6-year old, I wonder what message that sends to parents who have no choice but to trust that their child’s school is capable of looking after its students.

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4 Responses to “Police Handcuff a 6-Year Old Student”

  1. John Tapscott Says:

    I feel there is more history to this incident than what has been reported.

    The way things are today, with schools micromanaged to the extent that there is no room for creativity, sometimes they are just left with nowhere else to go.

  2. Margaret Reyes Dempsey Says:

    This reminded me of an incident from my childhood back in the 70s. I laugh about it now, but it wasn’t so funny back then when I was 8 years old. A family friend became a detective and had a miniature badge made for me with my initials on it. I brought it to school to show my friends and it fell out of a hole in my school bag. Someone found it and turned it into the school office. Soon after, I realized it was missing and went to the office to see if it was in the lost and found. A dippy school secretary, obviously unaware that real NYPD detectives don’t walk around with teeny badges with their initials on it, suspiciously asked me questions about how I had come into possession of the badge. Then she called the police on me. Did I mention I was eight? A couple of giant police officers (at least they looked like giants to tiny me) showed up to interrogate me. I was absolutely petrified. In hindsight, it’s pretty funny. Did that secretary think the quiet, honors student led a secret life mugging cops for their badges? The world was crazy then and it’s crazy now. Why is that, you ask? Because some people have no common sense.

  3. John Tapscott Says:

    Common sense died a long time ago.

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