Monday, April 25, 2005

what's this world coming to?

You have GOT to be kidding me. A kindergartner handcufffed for throwing a tantrum?!? Read about it here. Seems to me our police force could be using their time more effectively, like, say, tracking down sexual predators or doling out tickets to all the crazy drivers in Nashville.


Blogger Kate said...

Here, here! The school should have had a better plan in place. Like bring the parent in, a trained counselor, etc. There was NO reason for her to be handcuffed. Even if the police HAD to be called in, which I'm still not sure about, the police know how to restrain people effectively so that they can't hurt themselves or anyone else. You can't tell me the police couldn't figure out a way other than handcuffs. I actually heard someone on the news saying that the country is split on this issue and actually referred to the debate on spanking. This is not the same debate!

12:25 PM  
Blogger MDM said...

I wanted to reach into the T.V. and comfort that little girl. Obviously, there is more going on in her life than school behaivor. I too was repulsed.

8:10 PM  
Blogger Boalt Action said...

There is NOTHING wrong with what the police did. That child was beyond control, most likely emotionally disturbed and needed to be restrained, lest she hurt herself and others.

You all would be singing a different tune if a child like that little girl hurt one of your children. And as to police knowing how to restrain people effectively -- they do -- with handcuffs. At least thats the way its done in the REAL world.

The only problem I see here is that our schools keep emotionally/mentally unstable children in the same space as regular kids.

5:42 PM  
Blogger Pro Se said...

American parents neither have the time nor the inclination to discipline their kids anymore. With the mom at work, kids are growing up with no instruction on respect and obedience. How can we blame the poor teacher for calling the cops. Some of these kids are so overweight and/or mentally screwed up that it would be dangerous to deal with them alone.

Anyway... I think this turned out just fine. This is the age to mold children. If these kids are out of hand at such young ages, how are they going to be controllable when they are 25-year-old 250lb gun-toting behemoths? Being a parent is not just about popping out something from the vagina and forgetting about it. You have a duty to raise good citizens. Tomorrow, your asshole 5-year-old is going to go injure someone. Your 12-year-old might in a fit of anger just shoot someone! And you are morally responsible. I don’t understand you people. And when the teachers are trying to do the right thing, they get criticized and slapped with a lawsuit. Ridiculous.

6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh, did you people read anything about this case and this little girl? Her mother had previsouly called the police on her, for one of her tantrums -- she is so far out of control. Did you see her punching and kicking the principal? The mother couldn't come down to the school (they called her first) - what should the school administrators have done? And what should the police have done to get her under control? The child obviously has serious problems and I think all involved did the best they could considering the circumstances.

8:13 PM  
Blogger J-Wild said...

Let me sum up some of the comments on this blog: "Hey just another fat, undisciplined, black, and retarted kid on their way to jail!" I am appalled at the lack of compassion and complete display of ignorance that Bolt Action, Per Se, and Anonymous display. I will say atleast BA and PS had the courge to sign their name to their convictions. But that's as far as it goes.

I have had extensive experience (10 years) working with kids who come from un-disciplined homes, violent neighborhoods, and are emotionally troubled. I have seen way worse behavior displayed by kids much older than this six year old....but never once has there been a need to call a police officer and have the child arrested, and my experience included teenagers.

These teachers and administrators are supposed to be the "experts" in handling children. Surely there was someone there who can deal with a FIVE-YEAR old's hissy fit. All the police are trained to do when it comes to restraining people is put on cuffs, taser, or shoot them. Those three options and children don't mix.

There are thousands of ways to gain controll of an "un-controllable" child that don't involve putting them in a squad car with hadcuffs on them. If you read the article the child did follow the instructions of the teacher in picking up the room, and would have eventually left the room as well. However in situations like this adults often want to use a hot situation to establish their dominance and power over a child.

I will bet you $1,000 that had this been a white blonde headed six year old taken out in handcuff's there would be outrage instead of just a blip on the news screen.

9:18 PM  
Blogger Jana said...

I couldn't have said it any better, J-Wild...

7:30 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Thank you, J-Wild! Good grief people, would you want your child handcuffed? And having the mom at work should not be part of this debate. There are just as many stay-at-home-mothers who have NO control or respect and there are just as many working mothers who are amazingly responsible parents.
I've dealt with kids throwing tantrums in the classroom. I've dealt with kids turning over desks, hitting, etc. and that was in a posh, private school. There's no way I would even consider calling the police, and if I did I would NOT expect them to handcuff the child. Handcuffs are not going to scare this child into behaving. She, her mother, and her school need outside help.

8:18 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

I also have to add that it scares me that these comments are coming from LAW students!

8:21 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

Boy, Jana. You sure know how to pick a subject.

You want to hit the death penalty next? ;-)

8:58 AM  
Blogger Jana said...

Nothing like a little humor to ease the tension! Thank you Phil!

Speaking of the death penalty...more on that later...

9:34 AM  
Blogger tine said...

I agree so much with what you are saying, and j-wild put it very well-it makes me so sick and truly sad to see people written off before they even have a chance...i already fear the day i send jack to school because of the craziness of this world that we live can we expect to feel comfortable sending children to a place where the people "in control" are really maybe the ones who are out of who act out these behaviors are crying out for help, and no amount of discipline will matter if not coupled with true compassion for the needs of our children

9:56 AM  
Blogger Boalt Action said...

Thank you, J-Wild, for hijacking the argument and giving it racial overtones. Just classic.

I don't care if that child is white, black, or purple with green polka dots -- if she is violent and beyond control - I want her restrained! Next thing you'll be telling me is that school detention is "false imprisonment" of children.

12:14 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

I think what is at the root of this arguement is that some are not looking at it in terms of the best interest of the child...or the school for that matter. BA, as a law student I would think that you would be horrified that the law enforcement and justice system would have to deal with a matter such as this. A matter which should have been dealt with a psychologist if the teachers, administators and parent couldn't do it. When dealing with a 5 YEAR OLD, they need to feel safe. They need to feel like the adults will help them. This girl needs someone to help her modify her behavior. By calling in the police and handcuffing her, she just learned that school has no authority, police are bad (which anyone who works with kids knows that we try to teach them to trust police), and that no one is hearing her cry for help so she better scream louder. Now she's stuck with with a bad reputation (and people that have already given up on her) at the age of 5 which she will probably never be able to shake or grow past.
What do you suggest happen to this girl? Should she be locked in jail until she wises up? Do you think handcuffing her was enough, so now she knows better? Please.
What do you consider "emotionally unstable"? Where exactly do you want these kids to go? Are they doomed because they can't help themselves? Do you realize that any 5 year old is just beginning to develop social awareness and understandings?
How about using your law degree to support reliable programs that support and encourage families and teachers-rather than adding to the people who give up on children if they are "difficult" or come from unsupportive families.
It's time for our culture to take some responsibility for these children, rather than shove them aside only to wait for law enforcement to lock them up.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Jana said...

Well said, Kate.

And being that Kate has worked as a child educator and J-Wild is a minister to inner-city youth -- oh, and they're both parents -- I am much more apt to believe their arguments on this issue!

4:12 PM  
Blogger Boalt Action said...

The handcuffing was a form of punishment that carried important social repercussions. Your argument about the little girl hating the police because of this incident is based on false assumptions and is inherently wrong. If the girl’s mother stand behind the authorities, the girl will learn to respect the police and will understand that their job is to punish those who misbehave – it will be a positive lesson. If, on the other hand, the mother demonizes the police – the girl will learn to hate them as well.

Just to clarify, the girl was not arrested, or put in jail, or a squad car, or any other outrageous place mentioned in the posts above. She was simply restrained – it was a time-out. She was not hurt – the teachers and officers tried to help her. They first needed to make sure she wasn’t going to hurt herself. If the school really gave up on her, they would have just sent her home.

And as far as physical restraint of children goes – have you never heard of swaddling? We do it to babies so they don’t hurt themselves. What, is that wrong now, too?

Lastly, I don’t understand why you would assume that since I am a law student, I have not had experience with children. For your information, I was a martial arts instructor for many years and worked with many 5-year-olds. Children understand and respect authority when their parents back that authority.

4:57 PM  
Blogger Jana said...

BA: You taught martial arts...okay, so you're a nerd. I'm kidding, I'm husband has a brown belt in tae kwon do. (He also had a mullet at one point in his life.)

I'm curious, much time did you spend working with the children you taught? Was it a full-time job?

And if you want to get technical -- and I'm guessing that since you're a lover of the law, you might appreciate the technicalities -- "arrest" means "to stop". So yes, she was arrested. She was stopped from throwing a tantrum by having her hands cuffed behind her back.

Swaddling is actually practiced in an effort to make newborns feel more secure, thus calming them. Who told you that swaddling was done to keep infants from hurting themselves? Could I have source on that?

I completely agree with your statement: "Children understand and respect authority when their parents back that authority." Thanks for presenting your opinions in an intelligent and fairly respectable manner. Makes me much more willing to listen.

But I still think cuffing a kindergartner is nuts.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Boalt Action said...

Dear Jana:

While you are correct that “arrest” means “to stop,” this particular definition is applied to mechanics i.e. a brake that arrests motion.

I understand that people associate handcuffs with arrests. In fact, most people would say that if you are handcuffed, you are under arrest. This, however, is not the legal definition. Black’s Law Dictionary defines an arrest as “the apprehension of someone for the purpose of securing the administration of the law esp. of bringing that person before a court.” While there are other definitions of “arrest” that comport with the one you provided (i.e. “a seizure or forcible restraint”), they are not used in American courts.

There is no doubt that the girl was “seized” or “restrained.” Not every restraint or seizure, however is an arrest. In fact, most seizures and restraints, whether involving handcuffs or not, do not end up being arrests, but are mere protective measures employed by officers. In the instant case, there was no reason to bring the child before a court, and the officers attempted no such action. It was not an arrest.

And you’re right – handcuffing a kindergartner is nuts. But the blame rests squarely on the parents’ shoulders.

As to my martial arts experience, I did not teach it full time. But I interacted with young children in a Dojo setting for over 10 hours a week (which is longer than many substitute teachers spend).

As per swaddling, it helps protect babies from scaring themselves with their startle reflexes. As you may know, babies tend to flail their arms and wake themselves up. The danger is, of course, is that the baby may not only keep itself awake, but possibly hit itself in the face or the eyes. It also helps keep babies on their backs. You can read more about it at

7:36 PM  
Blogger J-Wild said...

I do not attribute any racial discriminiation on your parts specifically. However, you cannot deny that there is a racial component to this incident. If you think that people view this incident without the lense of race, then you are kidding yourself. In fact there is agreement that all hell would have broken loost had this happened to a blonde hair, blue eyed girl. I included it in my summarization because I know that there are others out there who view this incident that way.

Not that your illumination of her weight or her emotional mental health put either of you above that line of thinking.

I believe in discipline, I believe in punishment, if the child is disruptive and unruly there needs to be consequences. Those consequences could possibly include suspension or expulsion. I believe that Junior High students, and High School students should be arrested for behaviors that break the law while they are in school.

However, This child did nothing to break any law so why are the cops (3 of them no less) even there to begin with. This is another example of the police going too far, something I would think BA would agree with.

Situations can spiral out of control when pride, emotions, and reputation are on the line. These teachers, administrators, and police officers didn't use anything but their ability to overpower a five year old girl. They (teachers) gave up on their training and the administrators went way too far.

No one is saying that the child didn't need to be disciplined. The problem is that these teachers and administrators took an easy, and fearful way out. As this education blog points out, the fact that the police were called went against district policy to begin with!

Come on how can you guys say that this is appropriate use of power (hand cuffs and the back of a squad car) to use on a five year old.

10:11 PM  
Blogger J-Wild said...

Ok BA since you can't see how this incident could be damaging to this child (amazing) I will try to enlighten you:

Wow, where to begin!
Physical hurt:
Probably not much, from the video there doesn't appear to be any type of lasting physical damage done.

Emotional Damage:
Fear is the biggest one. Six year olds lack the capacity to properly handle and process fear. An adult, even an older child (13 or so) have a capacity for reflection, processing, and understanding. Six year olds completely lack this skill. This is a physical development issue with every six year old in existence. Children need to be disciplined immediately after they have done something wrong. If they are not, children this age cannot associate the punishment with the incorrect behavior. There is no way that this child can associate being arrested with not counting the jelly beans an hour earlier. So to her the reason why she is being handcuffed is completely lost on her. While children this young lack the capacity to process being held down by three police officers and handcuffed, they do have the potential to be significantly scared from the event.

Potential Emotional Fallout:
Lack of trust in adults. Regardless of her disobedience there is an inherint trust between a kindergartner and their teacher. When that teacher did not protect her when she was pleading for help that creates a schism in her ability to trust adults that are supposed to be watching out for her. This can have huge effects in her future relationships. From the video you can see she how traumatized she was by the whole experience. Irrational fear of police which leads to distrust of authority, which can cause her acting out to become actually worse. "You were arrested!" an incident like this can follow a kid all the way through elementary school. Children can be cruel, she is already over weight, probably acts out, and now got arrested. Her social interactions with the other kids is shot. And research has shown that being made fun of at school for six hours a day five days a week can have unbelievable consequences in how this child sees herself.

Potential Physical Fallout:
People handle trauma in totally different ways. If this trauma was significant enough to her own emotional make up, then the physical repercussions could be huge. Eating disorders, acting out in dangerous way, and all kinds of other things that could bring her physical harm.

Hopefully her mother gets her into a child psychologist to help her process what's going on. If she is just left to process this alone in that six year old mind, who knows what kind of erroneous conclusions she could come to. Remember this is still the age of children where they cry on Santa's lap, believe in the tooth fairy, implicitly trust strangers, and are scarred of the dark. Yeah being held down by three police officers, handcuffed, and put in the back of a squad car while a room full of adults just stand there and watch it happen will have a huge affect on this child. It should have a huge effect on all of us regardless of her skin color, weight, previous behavior, or mental state.

6:23 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

I'd like to address some of these specific comments:
"The handcuffing was a form of punishment that carried important social repercussions." Yes, it was punishment, but the social repercussions were not only excessive, but as I mentioned earlier this child is just learning about social repercussions. And so, her perception of it is not the same as when an adult is handcuffed, therefore, ineffective. Also, these social repercussions include that her school and her peers see that she can only be controlled when arrested. I don't care if she was actually arrested or not - like you said, handcuffs cause one to assume arrest.
"If the girl’s mother stand behind the authorities, the girl will learn to respect the police and will understand that their job is to punish those who misbehave – it will be a positive lesson." The job of the police is to stop those who BREAK THE LAW and bring them to the proper authorities to be "punished". Now if you want to say she broke the law because she was assaulting school authorities, we better make sure there are more police on hand, because 5 year olds hit. They do - and it's not right - but they need someone to teach them to deal with their feelings rather than acting out. I can't imagine where you see a "positive lesson" in this. It was a lesson - but certainly not a positive one.
"She was simply restrained – it was a time-out. She was not hurt – the teachers and officers tried to help her. They first needed to make sure she wasn’t going to hurt herself. If the school really gave up on her, they would have just sent her home." A time-out is for a child to "take a break" from a situation, so that they can calm down enough to listen and approach it differently. Many see it as a punishment, but that is not the way a time-out was created to be used. Handcuffing the child was not giving the child a break or allowing her to calm down - it in fact heightened the situation and made her more upset. If the two options were send her home or call the police, the school should have sent her home when her mother was able to come, and held a meeting the next day with the child, parent, teacher, administrator and psychologist to decide the best plan of action for the future.
"And as far as physical restraint of children goes – have you never heard of swaddling? We do it to babies so they don’t hurt themselves. What, is that wrong now, too?" Swaddling is to make the babies feel safe as if they were being held in the womb. When babies are distraught when swaddled, it is advised not to do it. Also, swaddling is age appropriate - you only swaddle a baby up to a certain age - handcuffing is NOT age appropriate in this situation.
"Children understand and respect authority when their parents back that authority." Absolutely. But the authority that should be backed in such a situation is the school, not the police. This school demonstrated that they have no authority.
As to a comment you made before about if this child did something to our children...if a 5 year old student in my child's class was handcuffed, I wouldn't feel that my child was safer. I would feel that the school has no control and poor judgement, and that it was an unstable place for my child to learn and spend the majority of her day because they are clearly only looking out for their own best interest and not the child's.
My grandfather who was a lawyer told me that law was the best study of people one could find. When dealing with law you are dealing with people - living , breathing people. If you can find no compassion for a 5 year old who has a tantrum, you're already too cynical - and we have enough cynics in our legal system. What we need is change - change that betters the life of the people these laws are written for.

7:46 AM  

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