By NICK CHILES
My God, this is getting outrageous: Today’s news on the police/school front has police officers in Georgia handcuffing a kindergartner, carting her off to the police station and charging her with assault because the little girl had a tantrum. We have written here ad nauseaum about the insanity of police getting involved in garden variety school discipline issues, but up to this point we were talking about junior high and high school students. Never did it cross my mind that police would be called in to control a kindergartner!
It happened in Milledgeville, Georgia, last Friday, when 6-year-old Salacia Johnson lost control of herself, according to published reports, “crying, tearing items off the wall, biting a door knob, trying to break a glass frame and jumping on top of a paper shredder.” According to the Associated Press, at one point, she reportedly knocked over a shelf, injuring the school principal. (This is a side issue, but why do I know baby girl’s name? Why has her sweet little face been broadcast across the globe? What happened to protecting the identity of minors? We have declined to use her image on MyBrownBaby.)
This follows a case last week where a police officer used pepper spray to clear the halls at an Arkansas junior high, sending several students to the hospital. And a long list of instances where teachers charged with instructing and protecting students called police to punish kids for simple infractions that, in another lifetime, would have earned them detention.
I’m not going to suggest that the job of teachers and school administrators is easy. I have a huge amount of respect for the patience, judgment and selflessness that most of them demonstrate on a daily basis. But it’s clear that their ranks are also riddled with idiots. From those who assist students in cheating on standardized tests to others who call law enforcement on babies throwing tantrums.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in the company of lots of kindergartners. I’ve even allowed my own children to sleep in my home on a nightly basis when they were kindergartners. They are not scary people. Even when they throw tantrums. When they get into the midst of a breakdown, it’s because they have temporarily lost control of their emotions—not because they don’t understand right from wrong or are intent on causing injury. Facing a misbehaving 6-year-old, what would possess you to call a dude who carries a gun and handcuffs for a living? It just boggles my mind.
The girl’s father acknowledged that his daughter suffers from “mood swings.” The translation of that statement is she’s often a little bad ass. She might even need some counseling. We have all known little bad ass six-year-olds. Some of them might have even lived in your home. But did it ever occur to you that the bad ass 6-year-old needed to be handcuffed by the police because of a tantrum? Thrown into a squad car? Charged with assault? Are you kidding me?
Come on, people, let’s try real hard to find some common sense.
1. Police Officers in School? A Recipe for Student Failure
2. A Middle Schooler Strip Searched in Front of Classmates? This Needs to Stop
3. Police Officer Sprays Arkansas Students With Pepper Spray to Clear the Halls
4. Black and Hispanic Students Face Harsher Discipline, Lower Grade Education In School
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.
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It is sad to see this happen, and only to black babies. What happen to using a blanket to wrap her in it until she comes down? So what do they do when an autism child break out in tantrum? Do they cuff them?? No they are protected and different measures are used to calm them. I see so many different approach then cuffs. There go her chances of getting into high paying profession due to a criminal record for something that happen at age 6.
This story broke my heart. I posted it on my fan page and to my surprise no comments. SMH, really? I called my sister a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and therapist to find out if the school’s actions were legal or if they had another choice. I felt pain for the little girl whose actions were wrong, but as a child and a minor her life will never be the same. Even the students who witnessed this traumatic scene will all need counseling.
Only one thing to say, and you said it: Ridiculous! And folks wonder about the school-to-prison pipeline. You treat them like criminals and then that’s all you can see.
Oh, and I have a feeling the child’s parents consented to her name and image being released as they are trying to draw media attention to the case.
I have worked in an inpatient facility with children who have diagnosed mental illness or have met unfortunate instances of abuse in their young lives. These children on a regular basis can throw tantrums that you would not believe and that would send even the most level headed of parents/teachers/caretakers into the fetal position wondering what to do. Not to say that this young lady is mentally ill or that she has been abused, but to say that children are capable of some scary acting out and if people are not properly trained to deal with the situation, things like this happen. I think the school was wrong in calling the cops because what the child did was not criminal. As you said she lost control of her emotions and she was expressing that. The schools need to realize that, especially for young children, the answer is not to make the child feel like a criminal, but to respect that they are having trouble dealing with what they are feeling and are unable to express themselves in a manner that is acceptable for the situation. This school needs to some better training on how to deal with difficult situations and have a protocol in place for times that present unusual challenges such as this.
A friend of mine said it more eloquently than I will here. The most damaging part of a childs tantrums are when the adults start having their own, feeling as if their ‘authority’ is being challenged. Leave the kid alone till she freaking calms down. let her clean up the mess. Done.
This is sad but I work in an elementary school and see how kids act now days I have worked in the same one for 16 years and in that time the kids have gotten out of control..the parents do not do their jobs I would die if my child acted like this…if only parents would spend a little time in the school system they would see how their little darlings acted at school they have no respect at all for authority. I feel bad for the other kids in the classroom trying to learn!
Unless the child has some type of mental “problem”, I think it’s the parents fault that this spoiled brat of a kid behaved in such a manner, especially out in public. Like I said, maybe this kid was mentally challenged or something. Everyone is talking about the kid being handcuffed…tell me, what the heck was suppose to happen? Let the kid wreck havoc and just “run” things? If “they” would have put their hands on the kid, then THAT would have been yet another problem. If you can’t teach your kid that the world does NOT revolve around them, then another option is to HOME SCHOOL them, that way we won’t be reading stories like this.
We need to fight these harsh laws in this country that set people up for failure at young ages – it is an institutional (prison) country. The only country in the world that has the larges number of inmates. It is all setup this way. You can do one small mistake, and it can send you to prison. Now I see that you can’t even have a tantrum if you wanted to. Dang!
Check out Angela Davis’ explanation on Prison Industrial Complex:
Another good one a speech – one from Professor Michelle Alexander:
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
I have to wonder if there’s a history of this child acting violently. True, it is extreme for the police to be involved, but perhaps the school had done everything in its power to deal with this child and parents who raised her to think she could act this way without consequences. There very well may be another side to this that isn’t being reported.