Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Is this the face of a criminal?

That's a picture of 6 year old kindergartner Salecia Johnson who was arrested and handcuffed recently at her elementary school.
Salecia Johnson cannot sleep at night. According to her mother, Constance Ruff, the 6-year-old wakes up repeatedly through the night screaming, "They're coming to get me!" Last week the kindergartner was handcuffed and arrested by police at Creekside Elementary School in Milledgeville, Ga., and taken to the police station for having a temper tantrum after school officials called the authorities. She is traumatized.
Seriously...this has GOT TO STOP!
Salecia... has had an early ride on what we call the schoolhouse-to-jailhouse track. They, like millions of other children in this country, are victims of the school-to-prison pipeline -- a system of zero-tolerance policies in schools across the nation that takes an unyielding approach to student discipline and in which children of color are punished more often and more severely for minor misbehavior than their white peers. It is a system in which common sense becomes irrelevant as intolerance reigns and the consequences are high: academic failure, criminal charges and damage to the psyche.
If this is something you care about as much as I do, perhaps the best thing you can do is inform yourself about the issue and get involved with your local school district. And if you'd like to support Salecia and her parents, you can sign the petition at Change.org.


  1. This really worries me. My grandson has been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. Temper flare-ups are symptomatic of this condition.

    What this trend portends for him is that because he is black, his condition may not be considered. We live in Georgia and this really worries me.

    Thanks for focusing us on this, Smarty. My family will be ever more vigilant because of it. I am also going to donate.

  2. I, too, have an AA child with Aspergers Syndrome. We were very blessed to get her into a special school that treats it. These schools are very difficult to find and then get the school system to pay. I hope you succeed in getting your child into a safe environment.

  3. Thanks for this. I will be looking in Georgia.

  4. This is insane. I signed the petition. Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Smartypants.

  5. I'm on the fence about this one. My neice is dealing with a 7 year old who has been exhibiting violent behavior towards his teachers and classmates. They have spoken to his mother and found that she has serious issues herself. The teachers, including the principal and counselors are frustrated because legally, their hands are tied, they can't effectually disipline him without risking getting into trouble. Also, they can't teach the other students because they are dealing with his behavioral problems so the children suffer in the process. They are hoping and praying that they can send him somewhere else before the new school year begins.

    Can anyone here tell me what else can the school do in cases like this? Before I can pass any judgement, I need to know more than about a 6 year-old getting arrested, what are the details behind this that compelled the school to call the police.


    1. I'm clearly not on the fence about this one. A 6 year old temper tantrum is clearly not a criminal matter and therefore not a law enforcement issue.

      On what else can be done - the first thing I would recommend is that teacher's education programs need to start including courses in behavior management. It was a shock to me to find out that the vast majority of them don't.

      And secondly, I have to wonder what this means:

      The teachers, including the principal and counselors are frustrated because legally, their hands are tied, they can't effectually disipline him without risking getting into trouble.

      If they're referring to corporal punishment, that of course is totally ineffective so its a good thing. But otherwise, someone needs to provide them with information on what effective discipline strategies can be in a case like this and they need to implement it. There are volumes of information available on that so I can't summarize it all here. But it is a professional's job to know.


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