Handcuffed at Age 6?

“She has mood swings, but that is no reason for them to handcuff my child,” the parents of a 6 year old lamented after their primary school student was handcuffed and taken to the local precinct for a “temper tantrum.” Salecia Johnson, a black female student at this primary school in Milledgeville, Georgia was restrained by police officers after administration called the local precinct because of her bad behavior.

I learned of this particular incident by a good friend of mine who called me directly to ask me my opinion about this Georgian catastrophe and, of course, because current events are more like the past by the time I learn about them, I had not heard of what actually happened to the little girl.

I’ve discussed in many posts how inequality within races in this country and the historical connection between the police and African-Americans have been the cause of many injustices across this country, not just against adult African-American men and women, but African-American children as well. Race is such a complex issue many of us as African-Americans, or even white Americans for that matter, cannot detach from the negative psychosocial effects slavery, racism, classism, and politics play within our opinions of various criminal cases in this country.

And, therefore, upon hearing the gory details of this case, at first hear, I was astounded that my homeboy was detailing for me an account of how a little 6-year old black girl was basically arrested at a primary institution, especially in what is considered the Deep South, like the state of Georgia.

But, when he began to account the behavior of this child within the classroom I began to realize that such a case is not open and shut.

I do not know, and I have not come across a publication that has fully described what began this child’s “temper tantrum” as it is being referred to, but this young black child not only began to purposefully damage school property, but in doing so injured her principal and even after being taken to another room to calm down, continued to bite on door knobs and throw random items across the room.

I am a professional in the field of non-profit and education. I will be very honest with the general public. If I am in a professional setting such as an institution of learning and I know that if I in any way physically touch this child to restrain her, despite her behavior, that I would be reprimanded for taking that action I would call the damn police, too.

The parents and the family of the little girl were outraged that the administration had called the police and were further outraged that they not only handcuffed her, but drove her to the local precinct.

Well, Mama Johnson, if you had answered your phone within the six times that administration called you or had you made reliable alternate contacts for your student, maybe she would not have been driven to the local precinct. The child had become a threat to the safety of herself, other children, and the faculty and staff.

Secondly, Mama Johnson and Daddy Johnson, if you previously knew that your child has these random “temper tantrums” that are truly acts of unstable psychological fits; you should have had your child seen by a professional school psychologist or developmental psychologist for counseling.

Many times, as African-Americans, (yes, I am about to say it, despite my past posts because we have to be real), we want to point the finger at the institutions when they take action against our children, but the thing that we have to understand is that we are ultimately responsible for raising our own children and ensuring that they “act like they got some goddamned sense” when they are out in public. When you teach your children to act responsibly, whether they are 6 or 21, and they are slighted you have a case to advocate for your child. However, when you are not teaching them values and morals within the home, they will act like goddamned fools outside of it.

About two months ago I was having a conversation with one of my instructors for my program who is also a school counselor here in South Carolina and we were discussing the behavior of a group of students at one of my alma-maters because I visited my alma mater to encourage the students to be a participant in our program. The first group of students, about 15 of them, came in and as they sat down I explained the rules of my conference with them as I always do with students. It combats behavioral issues later. Twenty minutes into my presentation another, maybe twenty students came in. Of course, they were not privy to my snarl and threatening eye when explaining the rules, but I said, these kids are eighth graders, they’re mature, I’m good.


Needless to say, I shut ship down, but I was explaining to my co-worker that students are becoming more and more difficult to deal with behaviorally because of parents. Parents are not being the leaders and the role models for their children as they should be. Two case in points:

-Two years ago, a good friend of mine (damn, I know you guys are like, this boy got a lot of good damn friends) was explaining to me how her spouse called her shocked because he had a student in his classroom who was acting out and when he threatened to call the students mother he replied, “call her, shit, that don’t mean nothing.” Well, him in all his teaching glory and authority, called the student’s mother because he just knew she would get him right. Well, first, the mother never picked up the phone. Second, her voicemail came on, which said, “SUP, NIGGAZ AND BITCHES, FIRST, IF THIS A BITCH, DON’T CALL MY MUUFUCKING PHONE CUZ I AIN’T GOT SHIT FOR YA, IF THIS A NIGGA LEAVE YO NUMBER AND WE’LL GET UP!” The student was right, it didn’t mean anything.

-During the conversation with my co-worker she said to one of her students, who was skipping in the hallway and singing at the top of her lungs a vulgar song that contained references to sex, to “please act like you have some home training and walk in the halls, do not skip.” The student’s reply, “…girl, I act even worse than this when I’m at home. Y’all got it good!”

Both of these stories are true stories. I am creative, but this shit you can’t make up.

Now, I am not saying that Mama and Papa Johnson are bad parents because it does seem like there is a psychological problem that has not been dealt with. However, it is important for parents to spend more time raising their children. We are in a juncture of American history where we have the lowest graduation rates for high school and college, the lowest college admission rates for black and Latino males, and the lowest statistics ever seen for work ready citizens and definitely, there has been a decline in the representation of minorities in politics and education. If we continue to sweep the fact that we are not effectively raising our children under the rug, and if we continue to ignore the psychological issues our children are faced with, and if we continue to blame others, when they are NOT to blame, for the outlandish acts and crimes our children commit we will never be upwardly mobile.

Yes, racism, classism, and prejudice exist, but you cannot allow these American pillars to give you the permission to raising our children in the correct way become non-existent.

J. Prince, Princepality 49

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One thought on “Handcuffed at Age 6?

  1. Very good article. I see these things time and time again working with adolescents in Charlotte. Parents are their children’s friends instead of being the parent. Some of the things I’ve witnessed kids saying, doing, and wearing shocks the hell out of me. I sit and think “I came from a similar environment but my mom & dad would bust my behind if I did that. ” or ” Teachers at CAJ, didn’t play that.” There is no accountability or consequences for many things kids are doing.
    I work in a behavioral program and it is sad that these kids are 14 in 7th grade. When I was 14, I was beginning high school. It’s a 17 year old in the 7th grade. Kids get caught up in the propaganda lifestyle, that they do not know reality from fiction. As you mentioned, it is partly the parents fault. Some of the parents I’ve met working here helped me to understand why the child is acting out. When you hear kids say “My mom told me to stand up for myself no matter who it is.” and then you meet the mom…
    Charlotte Mecklenburg School district is so bad, my kids would NEVER go to school here. I’ll move back to Columbia and enroll them in RCSD 1. I’m not even going to get into how many of these “behavioral programs” in Charlotte are failing the kids (at least not while I’m currently working at one.)

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