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Police handcuff Ga. kindergartner for tantrum

In this Monday, April 16, 2012 image made from video and provided by WMAZ-13 TV, kindergartner Salecia Johnson, 6, is shown at her home near Milledgeville, Ga. Police in Georgia handcuffed the kindergartner after the girl threw a tantrum, and the police chief is making no apologies. Johnson is accused of tearing items off the walls and throwing furniture at school in the central Georgia city of Milledgeville. The police report says the girl knocked over a shelf that injured the principal. (AP Photo/WMAZ-13 TV)

In this Monday, April 16, 2012 image made from video and provided by WMAZ-13 TV, kindergartner Salecia Johnson, 6, is shown at her home near Milledgeville, Ga. Police in Georgia handcuffed the kindergartner after the girl threw a tantrum, and the police chief is making no apologies. Johnson is accused of tearing items off the walls and throwing furniture at school in the central Georgia city of Milledgeville. The police report says the girl knocked over a shelf that injured the principal. (AP Photo/WMAZ-13 TV)

ATLANTA, Ga. (AP) — Police in Georgia handcuffed a kindergartner with her arms behind her back after the girl threw a tantrum and the police chief defended the action as a safety measure.

The girl's family demanded Tuesday that their central Georgia city change policy so that other children aren't treated the same way. They say the child was shaken up by the ordeal.

While it's unusual to see a young child handcuffed in school, it's not unheard of. School officials around the nation have wrestled with the issue of when it's appropriate to call police on a student.

Salecia Johnson, 6, was accused of tearing items off the walls and throwing books and toys in an outburst Friday at Creekside Elementary School in Milledgeville, according to a police report.

Police said a small shelf thrown by the child struck the principal in the leg during the fracas. The child also jumped on a paper shredder and tried to break a glass frame, the police report states.

The school called police. When an officer tried to calm the child in the principal's office, she resisted, police say. She "was restrained by placing her hands behind her back and handcuffed," a police report states.

A juvenile complaint was filed, accusing the girl of simple battery and damage to property.

The police department's policy is to handcuff people when they are taken to the police station, regardless of their age, interim Police Chief Dray Swicord said. He said the child was restrained with steel cuffs, the only kind the department uses.

"The reason we handcuff detainees is for the safety of themselves as well as the officer," he said Tuesday.

The girl's aunt, Candace Ruff, went with the child's mother to pick her up from the police station. She said Salecia had been in a holding cell and complained about the handcuffs.

"She said they were really tight. She said they really hurt her wrists," Ruff said. "She was so shaken up when we went there to pick her up."

The police chief said the girl was taken to the police department's squad room, not a holding cell, and officers there tried to calm her and gave her a Coke.

Officials at Creekside Elementary did not immediately return calls Tuesday.

The girl was suspended and can't return to school until August, her mother, Constance Ruff, told WMAZ-TV, which first reported the story.

"We would not like to see this happen to another child, because it's horrifying. It's devastating," her aunt told The Associated Press.

Milledgeville is about 90 miles southeast of Atlanta.

Elsewhere in the U.S., incidents involving students, police and handcuffs have raised difficult questions for educators, parents and policymakers.

In Florida, the use of police in schools came up several years ago when officers arrested a kindergartner who threw a tantrum during a jelly bean-counting contest. Since then, the overall number of student arrests in Florida has declined, but those for minor offenses have increased on a percentage basis. A bill was proposed this year to restrict police from arresting kids for misdemeanors or other acts that do not pose serious safety threats.

Annette Montano, a mother in Albuquerque, N.M., said her 13-year-old son was arrested last year after burping in gym class. After more problems, she said, she pulled him from the school in November. It took her three months to get him placed elsewhere.


Associated Press writer Jeri Clausing in Albuquerque, N.M., contributed to this story.

Comments

OrganicGrl 2 years, 9 months ago

I don't feel sorry for this child nor her mother. If this child is grown enough to knock down furniture in the result of someone getting hurt, she should be handcuff and taken to the police station. This 6 year old child is bad and needs a good old spanking. She is definitely out of control and her parents are not doing a great job in raising her. Where did she learn this? From the home or reality tv? Being born in 1977 I wasn't around kids that act like this growing up. Great job Milledgeville Police Department..

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Jen1981 2 years, 9 months ago

Totally agree OrganicGirl!! Like a tell my friends all the time, there is a big difference between an active child and a spoiled one...period!!!

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Linda 2 years, 9 months ago

This child is spoiled period!! Needs a good spanking. I would bet she does this at home and her mother puts up with this behavior. I can't even imagine doing this as a child nor would my daughters. She's the one in charge at home not her parents. Wonder what she will do when she's an adult????

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news2me 2 years, 9 months ago

In agreement that the apple probably does not fall far from the tree in this incident. Hopefully this girl was scared and learned a lesson from this. I know of countless people that can recall instances at this same age of getting in serious trouble, usually shoplifting, where the parents had them go back to the store or to the police to return the stolen item.

As far as being in a cell by herself, would Aunt Candace rather she be put in a cell with criminals? Also the handcuffs being tight are probably because they are meant for adult wrists and probably don't feel good on a child. I am sure all that occured was standard procedure.

I have seen many small children act far worse and more out of control than some adults. I hope that social services does a full investigation into Salecia's home life.

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citized 2 years, 9 months ago

I'm sure Al Sharpton will have something to say. As well las Jessy Jackson. Should haved tasered the kid.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 2 years, 9 months ago

Although tasering an adult in that situation is appropriate, tasering a six-year-old little girl, no matter how badly she is acting out can probably kill her because of her small size.

The cops were more than justified in handcuffing the girl seeing as though she was on a rampage, tearing up the room and was clearly in danger of doing great harm to herself and others while tearing items off the walls, throwing furniture, jumping on a paper shredder and attempting to break glass.

With the girl being in that violent of a rage, there's nothing else that they could have done to prevent the girl from doing great harm to herself and others but handcuff the girl.

Taking the six-year-old girl to jail and pressing charges against was likely a bit much since they had no intention of actually prosecuting her.

But if the girl keeps up that kind of behavior, being arrested, taken to jail and prosecuted would be the actual result of that kind of acting out, so that way it is a preview of what's to come if she does not learn a lesson from this.

Though, by all appearances it seems as though the little girl could have some kind of extreme behavioral or psychological disorder that goes a little bit beyond just being spoiled if she is having tantrums so violent at age six as to be a serious physical danger to herself and others.

That little girl looks like she may need some mental help, seriously.

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bridgetbordeaux 2 years, 9 months ago

Has anyone evaluated this child to see if she has any learning disorders or other special education needs? Not every child who "throws a tantrum" can help it. True, she may be spoiled but she could more than likely have an undiagnosed case of autism. Let's protect the safety of the child and everyone else she comes in contact with by getting to the root of the problem instead of just blaming the parent and/or child.

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mslmd 2 years, 9 months ago

Good for the Police,,, (I dont say this lightly, because I dont care for them). Teach the brat a lessson now, maybe wont turn out to bad later on. Plus she needs an Ass Whopping for that behavior..

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R 2 years, 9 months ago

"The child also jumped on a paper shredder and tried to break a glass frame, the police report states." Jumped on a shredder?

This could have ended completely different and just imagine the headlines...

The parents should be happy as this was far more than a standard tantrum and as odd as it sounds the chief and his officers did the right thing here.

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mustardandbiscuit 2 years, 9 months ago

" it's horrifying. It's devastating," her aunt told The Associated Press." What about the actions of the child before she was handcuffed, MORON? The officers did exactly what they should have done, and the parents should be spanked, as well.

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lezly1969 2 years, 9 months ago

The child obviously has major issues and does not need to be in social situation, until she is evaluated. She is more than likely a product of her home environment or has major mental issues obviously. If your child needs to be handcuffed to be stopped, you have a long, long, long road ahead.

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Kat 2 years, 9 months ago

The police were correct in the way they handled this. They did try to calm her in the pricipal's office. They kept her from injuring herself and others. She does need to be evaluated. If the parents care about their child they will take this route instead of being outraged that their child was handcuffed. If they ignore this and don't get help for the child they will be visiting her juvenile detention. Then when she turns 17 they will be visiting her in an adult correctional facility. Now all you activists getting your face on the news spewing your outrage at the police, turn your attention to the real issue. This child needs help. Advocate for her so she gets the help she needs.

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dentaldawg83 2 years, 9 months ago

bet the police did short straws or rock,paper,scissors to see who had to cuff this kid. pretty sure the cop who lost got the honors!..LOL!

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