Arresting Children

A disturbing trend.

These are not the sorts of matters the police should be getting involved in. The police aren't trained to handle children this age, and children this age don't benefit by being fingerprinted and thrown in jail.

EDITED TO ADD (4/18): Another example:

Unfortunately, the school forgot that the clocks had switched to Daylight Saving Time that morning. The time stamps left on the hotline were adjusted by an hour after Day Light Savings causing Webb's call to logged as the same time the bomb threat was placed. Webb, who's never even had a detention in his life, had actually made his call an hour before the bomb threat was placed.

Despite the fact that the recording of the call featured a voice that sounded nothing like Webb's, the police arrested Webb and he spent 12 days in a juvenile detention facility before the school eventually realised their mistake.

Posted on April 18, 2007 at 12:02 PM • 66 Comments


AlApril 18, 2007 12:11 PM

They remove the tools from the teachers to deal with these situations and then act shocked when someone has to be called in to deal with a violent child.

When I was in school it would have been a swat to the butt. The horrors!

nzrussApril 18, 2007 12:34 PM

>>> "After 20 minutes of this "uncontrollable��? behavior,
>>>the police were called in. At the sight of the two officers,
>>>Chief Mercurio said, Desre’e “tried to take flight.��?

I'm surprised they didn't use batons, mace and a tazer to 'protect innocents'.

On a related note. A colleague of mine had the police turn up at his door one day looking for his 7 year old. Turns out the kid was playing on the front lawn with the garden hose (100DegF heat) and nice neighborhood. The kid had taken his clothes off as he was hot and uncomfortable in wet clothes. While standing on their front lawn, the kid turned the hose on a passing car who felt threatened and called 911.

The kid wasn't arrested, and the cop was understanding...

A blast of the car horn may have been all that was needed to give the kid a fright, or get the attention of the parents inside the house.

What is the world (or more precisely, the USA) coming to?

Mike SherwoodApril 18, 2007 12:35 PM

The children who don't learn discipline at home are not going to learn it from school. Many of them will end up in the criminal justice system later in life, this is just introducing them to it early.

Calling the police is the option that teachers are left with since any other option would cost them their job or worse. Not every problem can be solved by sitting down and having a calm conversation about everyone's feelings. Kids are much more primal than that.

TamasApril 18, 2007 12:39 PM

In saner countries (read: not the US), children are subject to different treatment than adults. The age limit varies by country, below that limit, they are not responsible for criminal acts (I don't know the English term, the German word is "deliktsfähig", lit. meaning capable of being responsible for criminal acts). In severe cases, children can be treated by psychologists and other experts, but they are certainly not thrown in prison.

guvn'rApril 18, 2007 12:41 PM

@Al, good point. If the school staff laid a hand on the kid, the cops would be arresting them.

@Bruce, if not the police then who? Who has the training and legal authority to properly respond? Agreed that fingerprinting and jail are not appropriate, but alternative procedures and resources need to be planned, that takes time, work, and materials, in other words budget. Avon Park is a small city of 8,000 so I'll be there's not much of a budget, and lots of pressure to cut it. So what's your constructive suggestion?

Sad thing is that the police and school staff will be pilloried for a situation not of their making. Our society takes away the tools for institutions to deal with individuals that misbehave, then criticizes the institutions for the result.

TamasApril 18, 2007 12:46 PM

@guvn'r: "if not the police then who?" Uhm, maybe the teachers? Or the school psychologist? Adults should be capable of restraining a 6-year old if it is apparent that he/she is harming herself or others. If he/she is not, the case does not demand immediate physical response, let the kid calm down, and then call the parents, arrange for a consultation with the school shrink the day after, etc.

LiamApril 18, 2007 12:52 PM

I recognize the photo as the kid who was arrested after trying to break into Terry Schiavo's hospital bed and give her a glass of water (ie drown her).

AndyApril 18, 2007 1:27 PM

@jay girl boy mixup. The picture seems fictional since the name is female and sounds black.

Durable AlloyApril 18, 2007 1:28 PM

"He handed me a copy of the police report: black female. Six years old. Thin build. Dark complexion."

"A highly disproportionate number of those youngsters, like Desre’e, are black."

'nuff said.

Brandioch ConnerApril 18, 2007 1:43 PM

What "tools", specifically, are you referring to?

This is a six year old girl. No mention of a gun or knife or bomb.

What "tools" were taken from the teachers that would prevent them from dealing with the situation?

Harald Hanche-OlsenApril 18, 2007 1:45 PM

I don't think it is necessary or useful to bring back corporeal punishment to schools to deal with this sort of thing. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I get the impression that in the US, teachers aren't allowed to even touch the kids. The logic seems to be: Touch is necessary for violence or sexual abuse. Therefore, outlaw touch. In Norway, corporeal punishment is a strict no-no in the schools, but that doesn't mean the teacher cannot restrain a child that misbehaves, break up a fight, carry them elsewhere, or indeed give them a stern lecture. (Um, bad grammar there. Never mind.) And then, if the school cannot cope with a difficult kid, one calls in the professionals, which category doesn't include the police. After all, the police is not trained to deal with catancerous six-year olds, and shouldn't be expected to.

AlexApril 18, 2007 1:47 PM

Treat all kids this way instead of using normal educational methods and don't be surprised that by the time they are 23, they take some guns and shoot everyone in their sight at school. Throwing children in jail shows how you build a really scary future....

Harald Hanche-OlsenApril 18, 2007 1:49 PM

(Er, there is apparently no such word as “catancerous��? or “catankerous��? in the English language. Where did I get it from? What was I thinking of? Who cares?)

David (Toronto)April 18, 2007 1:50 PM

Interestingly, in Ontario (Canada), the Premier of the Province announced changes to the safe school act yesterday that included
(a) include cyber-bullying as grounds for suspension/expulsion
(b) require suspension/explusion decisions to be made at the school board level rather than by priniciples
(c) ** eliminating zero tolerance **

No word on what tools they are giving schools to help here.

Ironically this comes on the heels of the Virgina Tech shootings.

Stephan SamuelApril 18, 2007 1:52 PM


It's the same in the US. Under the age of 17, you do not go to jail for all but the worst crimes. If you kill a bunch of people, they'll still throw you in jail, although you'll likely be let out the day you turn 18. The person who wrote this article is attempting to be alarmist by saying that the girl goes to jail.

What really happens is that she goes to a holding cell. It looks like jail but it's all the police have. In most cases, she'd be held separately from other detainees while her parents are contacted. Once her parents arrive, the police let her out immediately. Her parents are later summoned to appear in front of a judge and explain why this happened. If they were neglegent, they may be accused of a crime and they may lose their child to the social services. The child will most likely be put in front of professionals (psychologists, etc.) if she did something wrong. A few teachers and police officers are only allowed to accuse her: a judge will determine if it was her fault. Perhaps one of the accusing teachers did something wrong and she ran to avoid further persecution from the teacher. In every case, the child is innocent until proven guilty. I don't claim the system is perfect, but it works in the absence of a better one.

I'm not advocating this treatment, but what should they do instead? Call her parents? Clearly, it's mostly her parents' fault. What if they can't be reached? Should the teachers just let her do whatever she wants? What if she hits other kids? Ordinary things around a classroom can cause lots of damage to 6-year-olds. We've seen 6-year-olds bring guns to school in the past.

The school doesn't have staff trained to handle situations like this. As others have said, if the teachers try, they can be accused of abusing the children. Good samaritan laws are almost universally suppressed when it comes to children because children are given free reign over everything.

What would you do in that situation?

VTBApril 18, 2007 2:02 PM

Problem: Child Misbehavior

Answer: Call the Police

Police: It doesn't matter that you're two (or 6) years old, you've got to be guilty of a felony because I got called.

Sooner or later, we're going to skip all of this court nonsense and "equal rights under law" and arrest=conviction, regardless of age.

HillaryspeakApril 18, 2007 2:16 PM

But it's not the parents' responsibility to discipline their own children. It takes a village, remember? And aren't police members of the villiage?

The family unit is an outdated tool of repression. Children should be reared by society.

RoyApril 18, 2007 2:18 PM

At 6 the kid has a police record, there for the rest of her life. She will be flagged for 'special treatment' from now on.

Worse, she has suffered mental and physical trauma -- being chained and caged is frightening -- that will likely last her her whole life. She should be able to sue the police department for damages.

The cop took the teacher's story at face value without investigation. Was the 'tantrum' actually the result of torment or torture? The cop doesn't know.

The police are steadily becoming more criminal themselves as they are steadily criminalizing more of our population for more reasons. We make Russia look wimpy.

jb IsraelApril 18, 2007 2:38 PM

you know what, when i was six, i had respect for my elders. i didn't throw huge tantrums, pull teachers hair or kick and flail at adults.

the only people trained to handle this situation are the cops. they train in non-lethal tactics and are required to keep their emotions in check. teachers, counsilors and principals don't have the same power or control.

i feel bad for the other kids in the class who are trying to be good, respectful and attentive but can't because some stupid little brat won't stfu and deal with her problems in a mature way (as mature as a six year old can be...).

come back to me when they arrest someone who isn't old enough to speak yet...

joel8360April 18, 2007 2:39 PM

Bruce -

What would you have the school do? Physically picking up a child and moving a child to another room exposes the school to accusations of abuse. A substantiated allegation is enough to end a career. Where's the incentive to not involve police?

If the police don't respond by removing the child, then they are exposed to litigation for not protecting the school.

There is no incentive to do the right thing.

Sammy the SurferApril 18, 2007 2:43 PM

Whatever happened to the days of being sent to the Principal's office? Unless some kid brings a gun or illegal drugs to school, there's no reason the police should be there. The nanny-state mentality is getting worse and worse.

NostromoApril 18, 2007 2:52 PM

Anyone (this includes you, Bruce) who thinks that what happened is wrong, should tell us what should have been done. It's easy to dump on the police/teachers/etc. It's also not constructive.
My take is that some kids need to be disciplined sometimes. But that's banned. So disruptive children prevent everybody in the class from learning anything. People then complain that kids can't read.

AnonymousApril 18, 2007 3:14 PM

Folks ... You call in the social workers! Unfortunately they are the first to be cut out just about every state budget. That's why I call most school districts the training grounds for prisons.

Therapy can be quite successful in reducing and preventing these incidents. Unfortunately, it's far easier to just simply lock people away. It's that whole American way of doing everything half assed and wrong.

Matt from CTApril 18, 2007 3:30 PM

>In saner countries (read: not the US),
>children are subject to different
>treatment than adults.

As Stephan points out above, it's basically the same in the U.S. and like Europe the ages vary a bit from those he cited -- in most states those under 18 (16 in Connecticut and one other state) are presumed to not be culpable except in extreme circumstances and aren't handled by the criminal justice system.

While we have many very good educators and administrators, we have others who have no business in a school, and many who have simply given up and blindly follow policies forced on them by lawyers without applying and discretion or common sense.

In my town we have several facilities that help troubled children. One is a residential facility with multiple home size dorms, the other is a day-only school.

The day program in particular routinely abuses the Emergency Medical System and Police -- with calls on a monthly or greater basis.

Their policy -- at a facility for emotionally troubled students -- is they can't touch them. Talk, yep. Touch -- as in to even restrain, nope. Remove the other students from the room and call the cops & the volunteer fire department for it's ambulance.

Leave it the volunteer Firefighter/EMTs & State Trooper to gain control of the student and transport the student to the local Emergency Room.

Fortunately, with very few exceptions ever, the students usually give us firefighters & the Trooper at lot more respect then they gave the facility staff. Hmmm.

Andre LePlumeApril 18, 2007 3:44 PM

What should have been done, you ask?

"Hello, this Miss Crabtree at Pleasantdale Elementary school. One of our six-year olds is acting bizarrely and inappropriately. I think it's just a tantrum, but since it has gone on for fifteen minutes I am concerned she may inadvertently hurt herself. "

Teachers are acting in loco parentis. Does anyone REALLY think that the child's parents would have called the police?

Andre LePlumeApril 18, 2007 3:46 PM

I hasten to add (got distracted) -- the above call should be to a medical professional, not a law-enforcement body.

StatistPresumptionApril 18, 2007 3:49 PM

"These are not the sorts of matters the police should be getting involved in."

Who do you think enforces "legislation" ? To demand involvement of the State one minute (please see Bruce's previous posts declaring the only solution, albeit for different problems, to be to "pass broad legislation"), and then complain about State involvement the next, smacks of a misunderstanding of the connection between cause and effect.

Is one to believe that empowered State officials will simply restrain themselves?

AqualungApril 18, 2007 4:14 PM


While I agree that this is a pretty sad state of affairs, I think legislation & liability concerns have pretty much led us down this path. A child that is acting uncontrollably and poses a danger to other children and has to be isolated, lest that child injure a classmate and the school suddenly finds itself liable for it's inaction. Once the child has been separated from his/her classmates though, they can still pose a risk to themselves or others if they aren't calmed down, which usually requires a social worker or child psychologist, which many schools can't afford on a full-time basis due to cost... which means it's left to the teachers to deal with, and is something that most teachers aren't prepared to handle. Preventing the child from injuring him/herself also becomes a priority, but requires physical restraint in many cases, which requires a teacher that is trained and certified to do so (again, more liability) I think that glibly writing these issues off as teacher incompetence or as an indication of nanny-statism is way off base here.

BryanApril 18, 2007 4:45 PM

Battery on a school official. (I'd assume the principal is a school official. But is a teacher a school "official"? a teacher's aide? the lunchroom chef? a janitor? a member of the PTA? any official who is not acting in official capacity? HOW ABOUT IF A "SCHOOL OFFICIAL", NOT ACTING IN THE COURSE OF THEIR DUTIES, AND KNOWING THAT THE CHILD IS VERY DISTRAUGHT, KNOWINGLY AND WILLINGLY ALLOWS THE CHILD TO STRIKE THEM?)

Disruption of a school function. (does recess qualify? does a high school football game qualify? what about when students are released from classes to witness the olympic torch going by and some student holds up a sign saying "bong hits for jesus"? WHAT SCHOOL FUNCTION IS BEING DISRUPTED WHEN THE CHILD HAS BEEN REMOVED TO A VACANT ROOM? Or do the cops get to arrest based on past behavior they haven't personally witnessed?)

Resisting a law enforcement officer. (is this a crime? do the police in this neandrethal burg throw their kids in jail for mere disobedience?)

Children (and infants) commit batteries all the time. Has no one ever witnessed a 3 year old throw a tantrum?

If a parents bring a young child (3 year old sibling of a student) to a school football game, who then throws a tantrum sitting on the ground and hits a nearby "school official", isn't this the same?

Police chief Frank Mercurio is an idiot. And I bet he doesn't have any children. (And I sure wouldn't want to be HIS kid. Or live in his medieval hamlet.)

This kind of behavior really shows the backward village of Avon Park in its most favorable light, doncha think?

Oh, and that's gotta look real good on your resume. "I used to work for the Avon Park, Florida Police Department, where we would throw the most hardened 6-year old crybabies in jail."

TamasApril 18, 2007 4:55 PM

@Matt and Stephan: I understand that the teachers in question had no training or resources to do anything else, at least legally. I still think that the situation is bad in the US, for two reasons:

1. This is an extremely litigious country, so people will refrain from doing common sense things because they are afraid of liability issues. Calling the police makes the child somebody else's problem, but using the police for things like this is a misallocation of resources.

2. If I understand correctly, it is very hard to kick somebody out from a US public school. So the kid and the parents know that no matter how the child behaves (short of doing something illegal), the school cannot do anything about it.

Thanks for the information on culpability. I still think it is not as deeply integrated into US criminal law as it is in continental Europe.


Pat CahalanApril 18, 2007 5:33 PM

@ Joel

> Physically picking up a child and moving a child to another room exposes
> the school to accusations of abuse. A substantiated allegation is enough
> to end a career.

@ guvn'r

> If the school staff laid a hand on the kid, the cops would be arresting them.

Hogwash. Having children present in your facility exposes you to liability and accusations of abuse, period. A child throwing a physically violent tantrum should *not* be an unexpected event, and there should be a policy in place that the educators follow. Minimally complex procedures can give you a very reasonable protection against lawsuits or criminal charges.

Physically restraining the child to prevent harm to him/herself should not increase your exposure to liability - if a parent is screwy enough to sue you over *preventing their child from harming themselves or others*, they're going to sue you for something before the kid graduates. As Andre pointed out, teachers are acting in loco parentis. Allowing a child to thrash around and damage themselves rather than restraining a violent outburst would be *more* likely to be regarded as a abrogation of your responsibility as an educator and lead to a lawsuit.

Joe BuckApril 18, 2007 5:50 PM

Harald and others: there's no rule against teachers in US tools touching young kids; they touch and hug young children all the time.

roenigkApril 18, 2007 6:07 PM

I believe the real point here is that doing what the school did is a policy that "fails badly".

On the positive side, the kid may have learned more useful skills in the 13 days in juvi than his many years in public schools.

Matt from CTApril 18, 2007 6:58 PM


>1. This is an extremely litigious
>country, so people will refrain from
>doing common sense things because
>they are afraid of liability issues.


>2. If I understand correctly, it is very
>hard to kick somebody out from a US
>public school.

In my area, it's not tough.

HOWEVER...the school district is still responsible to educate an expelled student. There's Zero Tolerance policies that will trigger it for certain offenses even if inadvertent (i.e. pocket knife left in the pocket from a weekend camping trip).

So there's still no real "downside" for the student or parent. The school just spends an extra $10-20,000 either providing a home tutor or enrolling him in another public school they bus him too.

TomApril 18, 2007 8:20 PM

How about parents raise their kids properly so they don't act like this in the first place?

StephenApril 18, 2007 10:33 PM

Thank you, Anonymous, for your monosyllabic, racist barb. Please resume scraping Oreos clean of their Stuff (R) with your single tooth and leave discussion to those of us that mentate above the 5th-grade level.

A consistent policy aimed at preventing harm is all that's required here. Staged introduction of interventions that protect students and address disciplinary issues is all that is required:

1. Attempt to resolve the situation verbally.
2. Inform the student that her parents will be summoned to deal with the situation.
3. Call the parents.
4. Discuss the situation with child and parents and send the child home as needed.
5. Ensure that a parent or some competent family member/friend will be available to come to the school on short notice, should problems recur on a future school day.

If safety becomes an issue (additional steps should be taken in parallel with the disciplinary interventions):
1. Summon a social worker or school psychologist to assist as soon as a threat to safety is suspected. This assumes that such staff are on the payroll, but it diesn't take too many 911 calls before you can break even...
2. Isolate the student who is threatening or abusive to others.
3. Restrain the student who is actively harming herself or manifests an intent to do so.
4. Summon the police only when the child's behavior is persistenly assaultive and she has a history of previous abusive incidents, when the child employs potentially lethal means to attack herself or others, or the child has committed a criminal offense unrelated to the disciplinary problem. Police involvement should become an option only after attempts to intervene with parents and social workers have failed to improve the situation.
5. Document all steps taken together with the behaviors that precipitated them (video cameras could be cheap insurance in such cases).

David AApril 19, 2007 2:39 AM

Here in the UK I was a voluntary classroom assistant for a while; one day the door burst open and the headteacher came in, with 7yo child throwing a major tantrum. She put the child in a chair, wrapped her arms around both, and announced to all witnesses, "this is known as 'reasonable restraint'". Seemed pretty reasonable to me. Nobody complained.

John DaviesApril 19, 2007 3:14 AM

Harald and others: there's no rule against teachers in US tools touching young kids; they touch and hug young children all the time.

In the UK, teachers are very much discouraged from touching the kids whatever the situation. Even, for example, comforting the younger children who fall over in the playground.

SteveJApril 19, 2007 4:48 AM

From the article:

“Believe me when I tell you,��? said Chief Mercurio, “a 6-year-old can inflict injury to you just as much as any other person.��?

So maybe the Chief's motivation here is that he's had his ass kicked by a 6-year-old before, and he's not going to take a chance of being fooled twice.


"How about parents raise their kids properly so they don't act like this in the first place?"

I don't believe that it is possible to raise a child such that by the age of 6, you can be absolutely sure the he or she won't have a tantrum of this magnitude.

Oh, sure, *you* never had a screaming fit of this kind as a child, and none of your children ever would. I don't think I did either, certainly not at school. Whatever. The fact is that at the age of 6, a child may well not have the capacity to control this kind of panicked/aggressive outburst. Even ignoring those children with recognisable medical disorders, small kids do sometimes just lose it, and can't be reasoned with. We don't understand their behaviour, and neither do they.

Parents can reduce the likelihood, but they can't eliminate it altogether. Parents of well-behaved children can take credit, but to be the parent of an impeccably-behaved child, they also have to be lucky. You can't then blame the ones who aren't lucky for not trying hard enough.

That said, there are plenty of examples of poor parenting leading to bad behaviour from the child. For all we know this might be one of them, or it might not be. To make a claim that *all* bad behaviour is the result of inadequate parenting is, frankly, ignorant.

David CantrellApril 19, 2007 5:38 AM

If I had to put up with all the taunts and abuse that children would hand out to someone with a stupid name like "Desre’e" I think I'd go postal too.

Of course, it's really the parents fault. They've obviously been reading too much bad sci-fi in which every second character has random punc'tuation in the middle of its na'me. Perhaps this girl's parents should be sentenced to reading all this year's Hugo nominees, and their poor daughter forcibly renamed to something less stupid like "Mary".

gregApril 19, 2007 6:37 AM

I didn't read all the comments. But the first lot seems to be missing something.

This is NOT a bad kid. He was wrongly accused and what evidance they had was ignored! His past good histroy was ingnored! Way to teach a good kid why to disrespect authority.

How the hell will you behave in that situation? When you are accused of begin a terriorst and that the police is on there way. Now what would you be like when you where 7?

I normaly don't like lawsuits. But if the school and police don't loose some serious face over this I doubt that they feel responsible.

Clive RobinsonApril 19, 2007 6:53 AM


One important point everybody is assuming this child was having a "tantrum" (which appears to be the schools point of view).

However what if the child was frightened for some reason?

I think you would find the behaviour would be the same.

So my question is,

Does anybody actuall know what caused the child to behave as they did?

If it was another child provoking / bullying or the teach doing the same then ask yourself if you would say the things you have said above...

Dom De VittoApril 19, 2007 8:37 AM

If all students carried handguns, as has been suggested recently, you wouldn't have principles/teachers acting in this way....

well, not for long :-)

In the UK, it's the reverse - the teachers should carry guns - paintball guns at least - damn they sting! :-)

PatApril 19, 2007 8:55 AM

I was reading up on the second story. I think it serves as a reminder to people as to why the logic, "if you did nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide" is so flawed.

He was called into the principal's office and was asked what his cell phone number was. He answered honestly because he thought he had nothing to hide.

Maybe if he had refused to answer the police would have been forced to investigate this more thoroughly. According to the kids lawyer, it took ten minutes to figure out that he didn't call in the threat.
Here is another article about what happened:

PatApril 19, 2007 8:59 AM

Dom De Vitto -
Personally, I think that teachers should have pepperball guns. Kinda like paintballs, but they travel 50 feet per second faster and they are full of pepper-spray.

But, as with any projectile, without the proper training and proper use, it can be lethal.

Fred F.April 19, 2007 9:01 AM

Touch is permissible. My wife was for a while doing her hours for her Mental Health License in a school. She was working with the 'special' kids. (She was chased by one with a kitchen knife while pregnant with our first daughter). The rules are that you have to take a special restraining class to be able to 'touch' a student. That shields the school and the teacher from 'negligence' charges. Some of those kids can be pretty strong too. In the knife case the kid was having a psicotic break and the school cop was the one to restrain him. Then the kid was Baker acted which in Florida is a law that allows a licensed mental health person (psicologist, doctor, etc) or a cop to take a person to the hospital for observation and treatment without their consent.

In conclusion the tools ARE there, in many cases the teacher don't do the training so they can avoid dealing with some of these problems.

no oneApril 19, 2007 10:08 AM

Tamas: in the U.S., the age of "criminal responsibility" varies by state. But like Germany, most U.S. states share the common law principle that a sufficiently young child (such as a six year old) simply does not understand the difference between right and wrong, and therefore is incapable of forming criminal intent.

In general, minors are not charged in adult courts and are not subject to adult penalties. However, while 18 is the age of majority, the age of majority for committing a crime in most states is 17. (And drinking alcohol is illegal under the age of 21-- very odd.) That said, a particular younger child might be charged as an adult depending on the kid's level of maturity, the nature of the crime, etc. Some states also have special treatment for "young offenders"-- people over 17 who have committed minor crimes that are attributable to youthful indiscretion.

And in 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to subject people to the death penalty for crimes committed while under 18 years of age. (22 people had been executed for under-18 crimes between 1976 and 2003.)

cmillsApril 19, 2007 10:53 AM

I don't know how things of this nature are handled in other parts of our insane country, but growing up in Miami, FL, we always had school security gaurds with radios posted in common areas and patrolling the hallways, as well as one or two "school police" officers standing by out front as well as 12 foot fences around the perimiter of the school. That was elementary school through high school. Yes, there was loads of violent occurances in all of the public schools which I attended. Almost every other day, a student was arrested for this, that or the other. In fact, there were so many incidents, that most of it was brushed under the rug by the school administration. I often saw other kids with knives and other makeshift weapons. It was simply a part of living in Miami.

MarkApril 19, 2007 12:42 PM

@ SteveJ
"So maybe the Chief's motivation here is that he's had his ass kicked by a 6-year-old before, and he's not going to take a chance of being fooled twice."

If the Chief's had his ass kicked by a 6-year-old, it's time for a new Chief.

Looking at the bigger picture, this seems to encapsulate the issue nicely...

In the intervening period, we have seen ever tighter regulation of ever finer granularity over ever more aspects of life that should be no business of the law in any country with a legitimate claim to being free. Far from being the solution to the above mentioned problems, the legal/justice system, less balanced and more over-zealous with each passing year, is actually the root cause of all of them. More laws and more liability will only make things worse.

ex-teachApril 19, 2007 5:05 PM

I wonder how many of the people dumping on the teachers and school have actually been teachers themselves? I'd venture next to zero.

Our society increasingly expects teachers and the schools to be the parents/medical dispensary/psychologist/etc., as parents would rather be buddies with their kids or else not deal with them at all. Anyone seen Nanny 911? Even in their own homes too many people can't control their kids, but God forbid anyone else discipline them.

I agree that hauling the kid off to jail in 'cuffs goes beyond the pale, but I seriously doubt that this little backwater school has a psychologist or even a school nurse. As someone else pointed out, those positions are cut too soon in any budget crunch. I wouldn't be surprised if the principal's secretary (assuming there's still some of them around) got stuck watching the kid.

It's easy to armchair-quarterback this situation if you've never been at the front of a classroom. Not that I think this was handled well, but in some ways I can't blame the school for wanting to pass this unpleasant situation off to the cops.

Fraud GuyApril 19, 2007 8:59 PM

A few points from experience as a foster parent of special needs children (everything from severe depression, ADHD, ODD, abuse victims, abusers, and PTSD, as examples).

Fred F called the point--in most cases, certain adults (teachers, foster parents, health care) actually have to have special training in order to be able to restrain a child (found this out in foster parent training). Otherwise, however well-intentioned you may be, you can be liable for child abuse if the child is harmed as a result (or claims abuse). The ONLY exception to this is if deadly harm is threatened.

Also, thanks to the proliferation of sexual predator laws in this country, a child of ANY age who is considered a sexual predator (including one who molests a child two or more years younger than them) can be considered a sexual predator for life. This requires the litany of registration, ankle monitoring, etc. that we have heard about in the news (and don't get me started on the effectiveness of registration and the inability of this regimen to stop recidivism). Some states also extend this to children assessed in juvenile court as delinquent for violent crimes (anything that is considered more than a certain felony level for an adult). This does not "go away" at eighteen, and instead the child must specifically petition to have their record expunged in order to not be considered a predator or felon as an adult. Predator status can only be expunged if a pardon is given by the governor of some states.

In many cases, child care workers, attorneys, and law enforcement personnel are unaware of these restrictions, and can give children and parents false information about what will happen to their children's records. I strongly advise people who may have to deal with these situations to have their local law specifically reviewed by an attorney who specializes in such issues (although this is available online in most state codes, and the hunt can often be started found by contacting the local PD and talking to the detective/officer responsible for predator tracking).

Welcome to the US. If you're subject to such laws, don't expect to stay on long vacations anywhere without registering (in some cases as little as 5 days).

uhohApril 20, 2007 11:26 AM

You can ask a child to go into timeout however many times you want, but it only works if the child is a willing accomplice in your timeout scheme.

Taking control and enforcing discipline is no longer allowed in the classroom, which means students don't learn. If I were inclined to conspiracy theory, this is exactly how the politicians would want the masses - uneducated and in need of having order enforced.

Lisa YApril 23, 2007 7:19 PM
Apr 22, 2007 8:11 am US/Eastern

NAACP Wants More Answers In 7-Year-Old's Arrest

(AP) BALTIMORE The NAACP said it's time for some real answers from Baltimore police about the arrest of a seven-year-old boy for sitting on a dirt bike.

City NAACP leaders are asking for a meeting with Police Commissioner Leonard Hamm. They said a report about last year's arrest of Gerard Mungo raises more questions than it answers.

It's illegal to operate a dirt bike in the city, but the boy has said the bike was turned off and he was just sitting on it. ...

TammyMay 10, 2007 2:49 PM

"@Bruce, if not the police then who? Who has the training and legal authority to properly respond? Agreed that fingerprinting and jail are not appropriate, but alternative procedures and resources need to be planned, that takes time, work, and materials, in other words budget. Avon Park is a small city of 8,000 so I'll be there's not much of a budget, and lots of pressure to cut it. So what's your constructive suggestion?"

How about calling the parent?! What a novel idea!

Those of you who support children being terrorized by being arrested, fingerprinted DNAd and thrown in a cell for being kids and doing things we all did: throw tantrums, steal candy, hit friends, climb trees - you need to take a good look at yourself. This is not at all acceptable behavior by any means. We are terrorizing our kids for our failures. We are the protectors and teachers of these children. We are adopting a zero tolerance rule with our children and are destroying them before they even have a chance to have a life. Shame on us. Shame on you for supporting such actions. They have no place in a civilized society.

TammyMay 10, 2007 2:57 PM

"you know what, when i was six, i had respect for my elders. i didn't throw huge tantrums, pull teachers hair or kick and flail at adults.

the only people trained to handle this situation are the cops. they train in non-lethal tactics and are required to keep their emotions in check. teachers, counsilors and principals don't have the same power or control.

i feel bad for the other kids in the class who are trying to be good, respectful and attentive but can't because some stupid little brat won't stfu and deal with her problems in a mature way (as mature as a six year old can be...).

come back to me when they arrest someone who isn't old enough to speak yet..."

This is by far the most IGNORANT thing I've read in a long time.

Why don't you step off your soap box and come back down to reality, you perfect little child.

A six year old can throw a trantrum for no reason. If you say you never threw a tantrum, I sure your parents will tell otherwise. Even the most perfectly behaved of us have our moments - especially at age SIX!

CindyOctober 13, 2007 4:37 PM

Parents let kids get away with a lot of stuff know days, and thats why the kids are acting like animals, and always getting away with stuff. They could probably get away with muder if they could.

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