My kids, ages 4 and 9, are always asking me if they could go to jail for hitting one another, or whatever infraction they've just committed. Rather than say yes and scare them into behaving like I'd like them to, I reassure them repeatedly that kids don't go to jail unless they do something really bad, like kill someone. Turns out that's not always the case, as 8-year-old Jmyha Rickman of Alton, Ill., was recently handcuffed and kept in jail for two hours.
Her offense? Throwing a "tantrum".
According to KMOV, school officials called police in what they say was a "last resort," but privacy rules prohibit them from saying much more. Police say they were called because the girl "was reportedly out of control and had torn up two classrooms". So a police officer showed up on Tuesday, handcuffed both of her hands and feet, and put her in the back of a squad car. After that the girl, who is said to have special needs (though what kind isn't stated), was taken to jail where she stayed for two hours.
Both police and the school stand by the decision. But Jmyha's family is outraged that it happened, and their description of what happened isn't quite in line with what police say happened. The girl's guardian, Neheniah Keeton, says she was manhandled.
Her eyes were swollen from her crying and her wrists had welts on them. They cuffed her feet too and she asked to use the restroom several times and was ignored.
He told the station he was on his way to pick her up, like he's done before when she's misbehaved, but thinks school officials grew impatient. He said, "I feel like if you can’t handle an 8-year-old without calling the police ... to put fear in them like my child, you don’t need to work with kids.”
And I agree with him ... to a point. Yes, schools should be able to handle the tantrum of an 8-year-old without police involvement, but what if they can't? There is a line where a tantrum becomes much more than just a tantrum. They have to think about the safety and security of all of the other students. So what else is there to do if a student is presenting a danger to him or herself? I wish there was another option, but I honestly can't think of any if a child is completely out of control in a school environment.
It's heartbreaking to think of an 8-year-old sitting in jail, and if she was mistreated at all, then that's definitely cause for action. But it sounds like she's had problematic behavior before, and officials chose the best option at the time. Maybe it's the wake-up call she needs to start behaving, or perhaps more appropriately in this case, the one her family and school need to get her the help it sounds like she could use.
Do you think it was right that this girl was jailed for a tantrum? Do you think children should ever be placed in jail?
Image via KMOV