6-Year Old Girl Handcuffed, Arrested, Charged with Assault After Temper Tantrum | Kulture Kritic
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6-Year Old Girl Handcuffed, Arrested, Charged with Assault After Temper Tantrum


6-Year Old Girl Handcuffed, Arrested, Charged with Assault After Temper Tantrum


ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Salecia Johnson, age 6, grew frustrated in her Milledgeville, Ga., kindergarten class last year and erupted into a temper tantrum. Unfortunately, it’s something that mothers sometimes must confront with raising young children. But what happened next was not routine, nor should it be happening to Salecia or any other children.

Creekside Elementary school called the police, who said they found Salecia on the floor of the principal’s office screaming and crying. Police said she had knocked over furniture that injured the principal. The African American child was handcuffed, arrested and hauled to the local police station. She was held for more than hour before her parents were notified and charged with simple assault and damage to property, but didn’t have to go to court because she is a juvenile.

But the ordeal has severely impacted the child. Her mother, Constance Ruff, says Salecia is traumatized, having difficulty adjusting back to school and may never recover. Salecia, she says, has awoken at night screaming, “They’re coming to get me!”Sadly, her case is not an anomaly.

Across the country, young people are being arrested for behavior that used to be solved through a trip to the principal’s office or the intervention of a counselor. In Florida, a 14-year-old was arrested and charged for throwing a pencil at another student and spent 21 days in jail. In New York, a 12-year-old was arrested for doodling, ‘I love Abby and Faith on her desk.’ In Chicago, 25 children, some as young as 11, were arrested for engaging in a food fight.


Supporters of zero tolerance policies say being tough on any infraction creates strong incentives to behave. But the reality belies that myth and cries out for the implementation of common sense discipline polices that ensure that students are put on a pathway to career or college rather than the destructive criminal justice system.


The Advancement Project, a multi-racial civil rights organization based in Washington, DC, tracks the increasing encroachment of law enforcement and the juvenile justice system into American classrooms, particularly impacting students of color. The research has documented racial disparities nationally and in specific school districts. According to a 2005 report by Advancement Project, Education on Lockdown: The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track, Black and Latino students in Denver were 70 percent more likely to be disciplined (suspended, expelled, or given police tickets) than their white peers. There were no states where Black students were not suspended more often than their white peers.


The easy answer is that Black and Latino students misbehave more than other students. However, research consistently shows that this is false. Black and Latino students are punished, even arrested, most often for subjective infractions (i.e. “disorderly conduct,” “disobedience,” “disrespect,” etc.), while White students are more likely to be punished for concrete dangerous activities (e.g., carrying a weapon, using drugs).


During a convening for “America Healing,” a racial equity initiative of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, a panel discussion this spring focused on examples where different sectors of the community have achieved some success interrupting the school-to-prison pipeline.


Jody Owens, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mississippi office, which filed a lawsuit against the district, asserted that “we are losing a generation” in Meridian, Miss., because of the way children are needlessly introduced to the criminal justice system. Kids are pushed into police detention directly from the classroom. Students referred to the Police Department for misbehavior are automatically arrested and sent to the juvenile justice system. There, these students are given probation requiring them to serve any school suspensions incarcerated in the juvenile detention center. One student spent 48 days in jail for wearing the wrong color socks. Youth who run afoul of school rules, not criminal law, are routinely handcuffed to a pole outside the school for the entire eight-hour school day.

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Data shows that zero tolerance policies result in higher dropout rates, lower academic achievement and young people being pushed into the criminal justice system – hence the name school to prison pipeline.


How have practices like these become common?


After the Columbine tragedy, we saw the emergence of zero tolerance policies extended into the nation’s schools. Proponents argue that safety in schools is the key issue though there is little to no evidence these practices create safer learning environments or change disruptive behavior.


America Healing panelists cited the importance of empowering community groups to achieve victory over these destructive policies.


Developing leaders among both adults and children willing to advocate for common sense school discipline; building the capacity of organizations through training and providing community resources; and broadly connecting the movement across the nation can build a movement that works.


Following this model, parent and youth groups, have successfully fought for change.  Denver and Baltimore traded out of school suspensions for minor infractions and adopted a system of positive behavior support, more engaging classrooms, in-school suspensions and restorative justice. Denver reduced the use of police in school discipline. The results are higher academic achievement and graduation rates.

Jerry Tello, director of the national Latino Fatherhood and Family Institute, shared how strong culture and families can play a significant role in diminishing the effects of living within these toxic environments. He emphasized how extreme discipline policies harm the spirit of youth and their self-perception.

The discussions at America Healing highlighted the power of combining legal and policy strategies, cultural awareness and community activism to reverse zero tolerance.

If quality education is to be a critical factor to the long-term success and independence of all children, there must be a myriad of innovative practices and partnerships between schools, families, communities, government and business to align and strengthen conditions that will break the school-to-pipeline.

Judith Browne Dianis is co-director of the Advancement Project. She is a prominent civil rights litigator and experienced racial justice advocate in the areas of voting, education, housing, and immigrants’ rights.America’s Wire is an independent, nonprofit news service run by the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. Our stories can be republished free of charge by newspapers, websites and other media sources. For more information, visit www.americaswire.org or contact Michael K. Frisby at [email protected]. )


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  1. Wilson

    June 15, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Nothing wrong with letting the child know who the boss is while they are young. Now the parents say their child is trumatized by the action that was taken, no way, they are looking at big bucks.

  2. elrancho2

    June 15, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    These kinds of stories are being reported so often now that I wonder if it’s a kind of pay-back for re-electing President Obama. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if frustrated, racist Republicans who can wield a little power would use it out of spite – even against children, as a kind of punishment and revenge for having lost the election. They are sore losers, they are consumed with jealousy and resentment of the first family, and they are petty and cowardly.

  3. Thomas D. Broadwater, Sr.

    June 15, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Every mother should learn the skill of teaching reading, so that she can teach her child to read well by age four (4), and if that child learns to read well by age four (4), he or she will never get bored, because he or she will find something to read, and not be disruption to anyone else in the world. That is what we must do as a people, to rid the broader community of the excuse to lock up our children. tom

    • Wayne Hazzard

      June 15, 2013 at 9:01 pm

      @Thomas Broadwater Sr. What about “Every father should…….etc etc etc.” ??? Too much on the mother. This was not an immaculate conception. There was and is a father unless dead. Period.

  4. J. D. Hill

    June 15, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Very well said! But the primary and ultimate responsibility for a child’s behavior rests with his or her parents. One who seems to believe that the schools, the community, law enforcement, business, and the government have as big a stake in the future of a child than his parents is not looking through the glass of a responsible parent himself! Nobody cares or should be expected to care about my child hardly as much as I do! And when I attempt to put the concerns of others on parity with mine, my child is in trouble!
    Sure! A loving approach to solving a child’s behavior issues will produce better results than to just toss him or her into the pipeline to prison. It takes far less money to provide adequate recreational outlets and educational motivation for a child than it does to house him in prison for ten years. But these are his parents’ obligations – not society’s. We cannot make others love our children enough to provide alternatives to their criminal
    justice, especially when prison produces big corporate profits that require a steady stream of “customers”!
    Where we can continue to go wrong is to keep ignoring the source of the “school to prison” predicament. The root of the problem is lack of family cohesiveness and parental involvement. And we cannot count on nor can we reasonably foresee the government or the schools remediating these troubling conditions. These are “internal affairs” of the Black people and our families.

  5. JB

    June 15, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    This sounds racially motivated but I cannot prove that. However, this is pathetic amongst the teachers and administrators at that school. You telling me that you have to call law enforcement to contain a six year old? Kids are going to throw temper tantrums. Whatever happened to calling parents and proper behavioral management? Teachers nowadays are becoming softer and softer.

  6. Alan Weberman

    June 15, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    She is just getting a jump on things – kid is heading for institutionalization

  7. Albert Hill II

    June 15, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    What rational person of authority percieved this as a “Police Matter”, with this being the case, I need officer patrolling the isles of Walmart & Jewel Foods because I experience children behaving in this manner there on a weekly basis

  8. tonya powell

    June 15, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    First and foremost. My grandson never created problems in school. However, I had noticed a incident that happened between him and a white student. The white boy hit my grandson first, and my grandson returned with a punch, and was suspended. However, the white boy had in-house suspension. This did not go well with me. I did my own investigation, and found this white boy had other physical incidents with both black and white students. I did not let it stop there I confronted the school, gathered the other students parents, and called a meeting to have this young man suspended. iT was not easy, however, when you know there is covert discrimination going on in these schools, do not” be silent. You have to confront the so called powersa that be. If you cannot do it alone seek others who may be going through the same thing. The white education system would rather teach their own, and construct a educational system that is designed to prepare our kids not for college, but for prison. I decided I was not going to let that happen I took my grandson out of school, and have taught him at home. I would rather have him take a GED exam and go to college, than have a educational system that is designed not to teach him, and create a environment that would cause him harm to lead him into their “white” judicial system. I do not know what it will take for us people of African descent to “stop” being so fearful and take a stand and die for something , rather than we dying for nothing.
    This harm that they are doing to us, cannot continue to happen. It does not matter if it is your family member or someone else. Those who they are harming are of African descent. They are and still attacking our older men of African descent, now they are attacking the women of African descent, and now our young men and women of African descent. I can only say: a civil war is on the rise. It is not just the “whites who are arming themselves. You can only tell a people for so long not to retailiate. God help us all.

  9. Kerri

    June 15, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Sounds like the little brat needs to be locked up in an insane asylum. Why should she get away with that nonsense?

  10. Dark Chocolate

    June 15, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Maybe, instead of handcuffs, they should have beat her into submission. There has to be a better way but I don’t know what it is. Any positive suggestions?

  11. Kerri

    June 15, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    @tonya powell….while in fifth grade my white son had an incident where a Black kid who had been given 52 pink slips from Sept-March, had been held back two grades, and was bigger than most of the teachers threw him backwards into a bathroom stall. My son, an honor student who had never missed a day of school, defended himself. Both were given in-school suspension for fighting. The large animal which some might refer to as a human had to have his own bus monitor to get him to and from school every day. He was constantly disruptive and his mother was no better. They don’t belong in a school, they belong in jail or a grave. Sorry. They were both a waste of carbon atoms. The little beast ended up in jail, my kid ended up a lawyer because I raised him better and I didn’t put up with any BS out of my kids. Don’t go into white privilege either. We were dirt poor when my kids were little and my husband worked two jobs to support our family.

  12. Peter D. Slaughter

    June 16, 2013 at 12:14 am

    First of all a vast % of black people seem to not get it or really know what is going and has been going on for quite sometime.
    Guess what ?? it’s not a conspiracy either.It’s right in the faces of millions of black people.
    Watching these criminal reactment police shows is gradured conditioning.
    I wonder why do so many black people or anybody esle even watch this non-sense.
    These shows are designed to gradually condition people to accept a beat down or whop over the head by Mr. Police man when you act up and disobey the law.
    If not they just straight kill you a gun shot and say
    ” oh they had a gun ” ” they were tryingn to hit me with a car ”
    ” my life was endangered ” ” So I had to shoot to kill ”
    In spite of these great sounding justifications,one thing for sure.
    Most of the time if it’s a black person either they have been beat and are on their way to a jail or get shot down period.
    The handcuffing of this little girl is part of thep process for sure.
    The police say ” we’re just doing our jobs ” ” we’re just following order’s ” . Guess what ?
    The nazi’s said the same thing while they were gassing and murdering jewish people during the holocaust.
    Right now it’s the same thing only in a different time period
    and with different uniforms.
    They even have a black face in power as they do it.
    Will the real black people please stand up ??

  13. Rose

    June 16, 2013 at 10:35 am

    This is that school to jail pipeline. To Whites: Blacks are poor, ignorant, angry, ghetto, illiterate, suspects, criminals, animals and mentally challenged. So calling the police to grade school, police brutality, sending kids and innocent blacks to jail is normal to other races. I bet you this calling the police, getting hand cuffed and going to jail is not going on in the suburbs (White or rich communities). BLACKS HAVE A TARGET ON THEIR BACK REGARDLESS OF THEIR AGE.

  14. Harold

    June 16, 2013 at 11:35 am

    We need to raise our own (black) children. We need our own everything. We do a much better job of teaching our children discipline–as a village.

  15. JB

    June 17, 2013 at 1:06 am

    Somebody needs to slap the [email protected] out of you Kerri.

  16. Francis Ushie

    June 17, 2013 at 4:28 am

    Does the law provides for the arrest of a 6-year old?
    Apparently SALECIA JOHNSON would remain traumatised
    for a long time.
    That said, parents hold greater responsibility for their
    children’s upbringing ( NOT BEHAVIORS ), because every
    human is unique and different in thinking and behaviour;
    but children could be taught to choose between good and
    evil, and, ultimately, parents should teach goodly things to their children.

  17. Dr. Roosevelt Northern, Jr., Ed.D.

    June 17, 2013 at 11:47 am

    When the LORD sees “our baby” Little Miss Salecia Johnson, HE sees one of HIS Little Lambs who is being maligned by an oppressive system. This Baby is learning to be a social participant in her environment. Her growth from 0-13-when GOD has ordained the release of her “maturing hormones” of seratonin, dopamine and neo-epinephrine will not occur until between years 8-13.

    Therefore, this child is being prematurely sanctioned two years prior to understanding (neo-epineferine release) how to ask for assistance-she acts out or cries for help. Where’s my Daddy?

    Our public school systems are replete with incompetent or even inept “professioanls” who don’t know how to teach our children. The alternative is to ask your local fellowships or churches is to open their doors to allow their flock in to empower our children Monday through Friday in a house of the LORD. (Proverbs 3:5,6).


    June 30, 2013 at 2:47 am


  19. Pingback: Badged Serial Killers: The Growing Murder Culture of Cops (Part II) | Police Zero

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