Thursday, April 19, 2012

Georgia kindergarten student handcuffed after tantrum

Have you ever heard of an elementary school student getting arrested after acting up in class? When it does happen, it makes the national news. Take for instance 6-year-old Salecia Johnson, who was taken away in handcuffs, with her arms behind her back, after a tantrum in class. Are teachers and police overreacting when it comes to disruptive students?

According to a story by the Associated Press, the little girl was badly shaken, saying that the handcuffs were very tight and cut into her skin. Across the country, civil rights advocates and criminal justice experts say frustrated teachers and principals are calling in the police to deal with relatively minor disruptions, driven by zero-tolerance policies and increased police presence.

The AP reported that Salecia was accused of tearing items off the walls and throwing books and toys in an outburst last Friday at Creekside Elementary in Milledgeville (90 miles outside Atlanta). Authorities said she also threw a small shelf that struck the principal in the leg, and jumped on a paper shredder and tried to break a glass frame. Police aren't saying what caused the tantrum. The school called the police, and when the officer tried to calm the girl she resisted. She then was handcuffed and taken away in a patrol car. 

She will not be charged with a crime because she is too young. Instead, she was suspended and can't return to school until August.

In other states, the use of police in schools came up several years ago when officers in Florida arrested a kindergartener who threw a tantrum during a jellybean counting contest. A bill was proposed this year to restrict police from arresting youngsters for misdemeanors or other acts that do not pose serious safety threats. In Albuquerque, a woman said her 13-year-old son was arrested last year for burping in class. Outrageous, isn't it?

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