Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Police defend handcuffing, arresting six-year-old for alleged temper tantrum

Image credit: Madison Ruppert from WMAZ video
Madison Ruppert, Contributor
Activist Post

In yet another instance of children being criminalized for exhibiting childish behavior, a six-year-old was hauled out of school in handcuffs for allegedly throwing a temper tantrum in class.

Salecia Johnson, a kindergartener, was taken away from her small Georgia school in steel handcuffs after being accused of tearing items off the walls and throwing books in an outburst at Creekside Elementary in Milledgeville and now the school system and the police are both defending how they handled the incident.

According to WMAZ, police “took the child to the police station where she was charged with simple assault and damage to property. Because of her age, she will not be prosecuted.”

The family of Johnson said that she was badly shaken by her treatment while Geneva Braziel, the superintendent for Baldwin County schools, characterized Johnson’s behavior as “violent and disruptive.”

“The Milledgeville police department was ultimately called to assist due to safety concerns for the student, other classmates and the school staff,” Braziel claimed in a statement.

Police refused to say what actually set off the alleged tantrum, but they did accuse Johnson of also throwing a small shelf which hit the principal on the leg along with jumping on a paper shredder ant attempting to break a glass frame.

Unfortunately, Johnson’s experience is far from isolated as this troubling trend is something that occurs across the United States.

In California, for instance, over 40% of public school suspensions are issued for dubious reasons such as “willful defiance” and disruption.

Ultimately, in many of these cases, the policies end up hurting the students the most, as evidenced by the fact that according to Johnson’s mother, Constance Ruff, Johnson was suspended and is not allowed to return to school until August.

Milledgeville Chief of Police Dray Swicord defended the police’s decision to haul Johnson out of school in cuffs by claiming that it was standard operating procedure and that when an officer tried to calm her, she resisted.

“Our policy is that any detainee transported to our station in a patrol vehicle is to be handcuffed in the back. There is no age discrimination on that rule,” Swicord said.

“She has mood swings some days, which all of us had mood swings some days. I guess that was just one of her bad days that day,” Ruff explained, painting a picture of a child throwing a temper tantrum, as children are wont to do, which police responded to by treating her like a hardened, violent offender.

According to The Washington Post, civil rights advocates and criminal justice experts across the United States are observing how frustrated teachers and school administrators are calling police to resolve even the most minor conflicts.

“Kids are being arrested for being kids,” Shannon Kennedy, a civil rights attorney said.

Kennedy is currently suing the Albuquerque, New Mexico school district due to hundreds of children being arrested over the last few years for offenses as minor as refusing to switch seats or having cell phones in class all the way up to the high crimes of burping and destroying a history book.

In one case, a 14-year-old boy was actually arrested for inflating a condom in the classroom. I don’t know about you, but I know that I would get a kick out of reading that police report.

Other cases include another kindergartener being arrested in Florida for an allegedly throwing a temper tantrum during a jelly bean counting contest several years ago.

In fact, a bill was proposed just this year in Florida in an attempt to restrict the ability for police to arrest children for minor misdemeanors or other acts which do not pose a serious threat to safety.

Annette Montano of Albuquerque also said that her 13-year-old child was arrested just last year for the absurd crime of burping in gym class.

While Albuquerque school officials will not comment on the arrests in their school system, the president of the Albuquerque teachers union, Ellen Berstein, claims that students’ bad behavior is more extreme now than it once was.

She claims that there are cases of sexual harassment in elementary and middle school as well as cases of children throwing furniture. “There is more chronic and extreme disrespect, disinterest and kids who basically don’t care,” she added.

Thankfully, not all are blind enough to buy the flawed logic put forth by schools and police. Darrel Stephens, a former police chief in Charlotte, North Carolina and executive director of the Major Cities Chief Association is one of those who does not see this trend as promising.

“I have had some concern for a while that the schools have relied a little too heavily on police officers to handle disciplinary problems,” Stephens said.

In Texas alone, a nonprofit public interest group called Texas Appleseed found that an estimated 100,000 children are ticketed each and every year for misdemeanors ranging from violations of the school dress code to truancy to swearing.

One Texas state lawmaker, Senator John Whitmire, wants to get rid of student ticketing entirely. He says that teachers and police need to draw more distinct lines between students who they are actually afraid of and students who they are mad at.

“If you are afraid of someone because they bring a gun or drugs, of course we come down hard,” Whitmire said. “It’s the kids that just make you mad that you don’t need to make a crime.”

This seems like a wholly logical statement and yet somehow it doesn’t seem to be shared by some administrators, teachers, police and legislators.

If we continue to turn our children into criminals by treating them as such, we can expect a culture of criminality and a large customer base for the private prison industry to continue into the foreseeable future.

I’d love to hear your opinion, take a look at your story tips, and even your original writing if you would like to get it published. Please email me at

10 Disgusting Examples Of Very Young School Children Being Arrested, Handcuffed And Brutalized By Police

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This article first appeared at End the Lie.

Madison Ruppert is the Editor and Owner-Operator of the alternative news and analysis database End The Lie and has no affiliation with any NGO, political party, economic school, or other organization/cause. He is available for podcast and radio interviews. Madison also now has his own radio show on Orion Talk Radio from 8 pm -- 10 pm Pacific, which you can find HERE.  If you have questions, comments, or corrections feel free to contact him at  


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Jerry said...

They FORCE children to school,THEN complain about those children who don't want to be there,creating problems they don't know how to handle. Make school VOLUNTARY, then REMOVE those students who don't want to be there.Disruptions in school can then be dealt with by the parents, like it used to be.

Anonymous said...

Ridiculous! I teach in an elementary school and if you can't handle a six year old you should not be there.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a more complex problem than an officer arresting a 6 year old.

There is also a lot of information missing to the story before one can make the judgement of the sensationalistic headline.

I have many doubts to the accuracy and portrayal of this story similar to the first NBC coverage of Trayvon Marting editing out key facts to make the story big.

To, the second poster- where do you teach? Is it the same make up, education system, or similar school setting.

We do not know of the socio-economic conditions, the neighborhood conditions, what caused the child to act out. Is their abuse or neglect in the home, did the child witness a traumatic event prior to school?

Are there drugs involved? It sounds outlandish to some, but some schools have trouble with kids even at this age with drugs. Also some school are ill-prepared because it was never considered.

Should this child maybe not have been mainstreamed. The teacher did the right thing by taking them to the principals office.

As far as the schools response and police response. There are problems too numerous for just a post.

The LEGAL SYSTEM is also in part to blame. The principal is not allowed to restrain or is liable for a lawsuit. My question is did the principal make reasonable efforts first to contact the parents to take the child out of school before calling the police?

The principal to avoid a lawsuit or trying to restrain an uncontrollable child calls the police. The police have to respond and follow procedure- to deter from procedure is too open up for lawsuits. In this case following procedure opens them up for lawsuits as well. They are at fault before they even arrived at the school to control the situation they were called to take care of.

Maybe in the future they will have the police transport the child to the parents custody instead of jail, even if that means the parents place of employment (assuming they are employed).

In simple terms, the situation was a clusterf--k waiting to happen.

Anonymous said...

You obviously have never dealt with a child who has been diagnosed with a mood disorder, namely Bipolar Disorder. I have seen first hand what this disorder can do to a child. I have seen a six year old punch a hole in a door, knock over book shelves, and attack her older siblings physically. This child now takes medication to control her mood disorder. This little girl in the story sounds like she may have a mood disorder. These outbursts are called "rage fits", they are not the typical temper tantrum. Unless you have experience with this, then you have not right to pass judgement on the adults that were dealing with this child. I believe they made the right decision for the safety of everyone involved.

Anonymous said...

Are there drugs involved?
Good question. I suggest it be applied to the comment at 9:30PM.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last 3 posts.

But just as you can't judge the adults because of the lack of information from the story, you also can not diagnose the child either given the lack of information to the story.

The lack of informational facts and the broadsweeping generalizations made by the author is a dangerous trend that appears to be happening more often in both mainstream and alternative media.

With a society that lives soundbyte to soundbyte it is easy to anger and demand swift justice or call an injustice before the facts are in. This is prejudicial.

Slow to anger and wait for the facts, because lack of information can sometimes be more damaging than just an outright lie.

That is why under oath one says "The Truth, The WHOLE Truth, and Nothing but the Truth"

Journalistic reporting has a hard time latter two when trying to slant or bias a story.

In short- we don't have enough information to make any judgements unless one chooses to be pre-judicial

Anonymous said...

I love the apologists here (5 bucks says, they're astroturfing for the police state) who rush to judge the child and excuse the thugs in blue. No doubt they're all good, loving Christians. Hey, y'all, your hypocrisy and inhumanity is showing! Think you hatemongers What Would Jesus Do in a case like this? Another 5 bucks says, anything but what you all despicable poor excuses for human beings have done. And this coming from a life-long Atheist.

Anonymous said...

Of course the thugs make excuses. Duh! What else does anyone expect? An apology? An admission of guilt? Ha! It will snow in hell before these psychopaths ever apology and admit to their wrongdoing. Amerikkka is done. Enjoy it y'all!

Anonymous said...

"And this coming from a life-long Atheist."

It's ironic that there is not a single mention of God or any religious reference anywhere. Not to mention even anywhere about a Christian reference at that.

But the one who is interjecting religion into the discussion is the self-proclaimed atheist.

This article and previous posts say nothing about religion. The anonymous poster might as well bring up race and sex if they want to stir the angry pot some more.

There is enough hate and fear mongering in this world. Why would someone want to add more by making ignorant comments and not wanting to know the facts.

If anything I would expect someone who is interested in the TRUTH to actually want to know ALL the facts before making a conclusion.

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