Handcuffing children: A teacher shares his child’s scary experience with a classmate

I received this note from a Georgia teacher and am sharing it with the author’s permission as it provides an example of why a school might resort to bringing in police to respond to even elementary schoolchildren:

This note outlines a frightening experience the teacher’s own child had this week because of an out-of-control classmate who was clearly a danger to himself and others:

As a public school teacher since 1990, I have seen my share of unruly students. I do not doubt that incidences sometimes require police intervention and even warrant the use of handcuffs. Below is an account of an incident that occurred yesterday while my fifth grade daughter was taking her math CRCT. This is her written statement:

“Today at CRCT this boy got stuck on a question and started kicking the table. The teacher told him to stop.

He ran to the curtains and wrapped himself up in it and started humming. He found this sliding door and went in and found a wooden board and started beating the wall with it. Then he started cussing out the teacher saying ‘Get out of here before I beat your a** up.’

This other little boy looked at him and then the boy said, ‘What the he** are you looking at?’ Then, the teacher evacuated the class into the hall. On the way the boy came out and took the board and pushed all the stuff off the tables with it. Then since we were so close to him we were moved to another room. He ran out the front door over the railroad tracks and around the block.

The teacher couldn’t touch him and some city workers and the police had to grab him and put him in jail until his mom came and got him. And before that he started shooting birds at people.”

The teacher wrote at the end of his note: “Normal school misbehavior should be handled by school authorities. When the behavior becomes criminal such as destroying property or becoming a threat to people in the school, law enforcement must be allowed to handle the situation according to their training. I am glad no one was physically injured. The emotional trauma some of the students suffered will have a lasting impact.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

39 comments Add your comment

Beverly Fraud

April 27th, 2012
4:52 pm

Why would a teacher have a sliding door in her room?

Why curtains?

Why wasn’t she giving the CRCT in an engaging way, to hold the student’s interest?

Clearly the root cause of the child’s misbehavior was poor management on the part of the teacher.

It is my hope that this teacher gets the training she so obviously needs, or for the sake of her students gets counseled out of the profession.

Beverly Fraud

April 27th, 2012
5:02 pm

What this teacher needs to do is write an individualize lesson plan for this allegedly “unruly” child (let’s be honest he’s just an active child being mismanaged)

Detailed actions on the part of the teacher, breaking the child’s day down into 5 minute increments, regular “revisiting” strategies with the child (every 15 minutes, for 2-3 minutes max, while the other students are working) a synopsis of the child’s day, what worked/what didn’t no more than (3-4 pages max) establishing a home/school connection (nothing too taxing for the teacher, just a daily email to the parent’s no more than a paragraph or two in each subject area, and a page for social interaction) combined with home visits bi-weekly (lasting no more than an hour, again being respectful of the teacher’s time/work-life balance) and there is no doubt this child will experience a dramatic turn around.

As you can clearly, we don’t need hysterics about “the police” just a teacher willing to make a few easily doable tweeks to her practice.

Old timer

April 27th, 2012
5:03 pm

I once had a 6th grader pick up a computer and throw it to the window. I am sure he thought it would break the window…by the time he began swinging desks at walls and windows we had all left the room. He did this once or twice a year. Very shortly after this episode he had a very large retired army para who went with him everywhere. I wonder if he ever made it through high school. His para probably needed handcuffs.

Seriously?

April 27th, 2012
5:38 pm

Beverly Fraud… PLEASE tell me you are using sarcasm.

Because otherwise, how exactly might one give a 3 hour exam in an engaging manner to hold a student’s interest?

bootney farnsworth

April 27th, 2012
5:45 pm

a child act unruly and be a danger to itself and others?
can’t be.

there is no problem with undisiplined children. none whatsoever.
the teacher was obvious asking for us

Essie Ray

April 27th, 2012
5:46 pm

Sound like a “Drama Teacher” to me. And he ran to the window and wrapped himself in curtains then the class was evacuated. Little Johnny ran across the street where he was captured by City Workers. The End

Colonel Jack

April 27th, 2012
5:49 pm

@Beverly Fraud … You, my dear, are the sarcasm champion! Love it!

PatDowns

April 27th, 2012
6:06 pm

I was sympathetic until reading her last sentence…”The emotional trauma some of the students suffered will have a lasting impact.” I’m sure in-school counseling services will be provided.

Old Raider

April 27th, 2012
6:40 pm

I would surely get to a safe place and call law enforcement if this happened in my workplace. How sad that it has become necessary in our schools. And yes, it is a traumatic experience for kids who are not accustomed to such behavior.

Ed Johnson

April 27th, 2012
7:00 pm

“Today at CRCT this boy got stuck on a question and started kicking the table ….”

When will we stop the madness? Alas, it will only get worse. One kid today, two more tomorrow, a few the next day, several the day after, until….

A Teacher Like Me

April 27th, 2012
7:42 pm

I believe this happened and I believe that calling the police is necessary. I can’t understand why folks became so excised about the six year old in handcuffs. (I need to make the disclaimer that I am liberal) These incidents aren’t the first time these students, including the little girl from last week, have acted in a foolish manner. Their parents are perfectly aware, but somewhere along the line IDEA says that we have to protect these kids’ right to learn so they aren’t automatically kicked out of school. That is fine, but I wish some other parent would challenge IDEA because these disruptions are interfering with the learning and safety of other children who are also entitled to learn. I

V for Vendetta

April 27th, 2012
8:15 pm

Beverly,

Bwahahaha! You hit the nail on the head. No big deal, right?

I agree with Ed. I think the beginning of the girl’s story says it all. If a child misbehaves in such a way, he or she should be REMOVED from the educational environment. Period. These parents need to realize that their absolute FAILINGS as parents are not the job of the schools to correct. The schools are not social engineering factories–though many would like them to be. As others have mentioned in regards to this topic, I would be positively mortified if one of my children acted in such a way. Then again, I know mine wouldn’t because such behavior is not tolerated in our house and never was. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

doris

April 27th, 2012
8:19 pm

With any of these stories about children being handcuffed, not once have I read about the fact that these children are special needs children, funneled into general education classrooms with unqualified teachers as well as administrators. Not only is it an imperative fact needed to be included in the article it is an example of poor journalism. It is well known that Special Educations Classes are being disbanded to save money. There are many spectrum’s of autism. But there arent many special ed college courses to help educate our teachers. The one most important aspect of all autistic children is their absent of socialization skills; thus their own behavior management. I am saddened by this educators lack of sensitivity towards this subject as well as the journalist lack of investigative skills. Are we now to blame the children for our societies ignorance about this disorder. Is the government paying off the media to mislead the public to our obligation to pay for our special needs children. Toxic chemicals from our plastics in addition to others poisons that are non regulated by our government has and is proven to contribute to this disorder. Our baby bottles are all plastic and the milk we give them. Please research before you accuse. Be Blessed and Thank you. Kindest Regards, Disappointed in the, I thought were educated

crankee-yankee

April 27th, 2012
11:42 pm

@doris
Get used to it.
These are the kids that will be become a larger percentage of a school’s population when the Charters open.
The spiral will start, the Charters will not accept these kids, the regular ed parents will pull their kids from public schools due to incidents as above, and so on…
Public education will be for special needs & poor kids, it will take some time but if the planned Charter changes are not short-circuited, this is the road we will travel.
Talk about segregation, but the Charter architects, scurrilous dirtbags that they are, will reply with the “everyone has a choice” mantra.

TimeOut

April 27th, 2012
11:54 pm

Perhaps we should just let the Charter schools have it all. We can’t keep safe the rest of our students. I worry about my own children; I worry about my students, since the rights of law-abiding, self-controlled children and adults mean so much less than the rights of those who behave as this student.

bu2

April 27th, 2012
11:57 pm

A Teacher like me
Not clear from your comment, but it sounds like you are saying we should be able to choose which children have a right to an education? Those with “foolish behavior” caused by their disabilities should be expelled? I guess as a liberal, you are ok with a whole class of people being added to the welfare rolls and being more likely to become incarcerated? The % of ADHD kids ending up in jail are pretty high with the current laws.

IDEA says the disabled children have a right to an education in the least restrictive environment. That doesn’t necessarily mean a general classroom is the best place for them. For some it is. For others it clearly isn’t. What special needs parents understand is that school districts often do everything in their power to avoid their legal obligations. Unless you get an advocate, many schools are perfectly willing to lie to you about your rights. I think that Milledgeville realized there are a lot of procedures they didn’t follow in suspending the child there and that if the child was disabled they were potentially opening themselves up to legal consequences, so they reversed the suspension. The stories you hear of the ignorance and deceit by schools are astounding. Chewing on doorknobs, wrapping yourself in a curtain and humming are clear indications that there is probably something going on beyond simple “foolish misbehavior.”

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

April 28th, 2012
3:40 am

THANKS to the courageous teacher for writing and to you for sharing this letter, Maureen.

So long as we acquiesce in the domination of our local and state public school systems by educrats more concerned with their careers, their images and their paychecks than with long-term student welfare, we shouldn’t expect school climate and student learning to improve.

A working Mother

April 28th, 2012
7:04 am

Crankee Yankee, so what you are saying is that if we open charters, everyone will leave except those kids with special needs and the public schools will be filled only with kids with special needs.
OK.
That sounds like a good thing.
special needs kids will get the education they deserve. The public teachers will no longer have to teach on two different levels. Mainstream kids will be taught at a school their parents choose.
Everbody wins.
Why is your prediction a bad one?

A working Mother

April 28th, 2012
7:07 am

BU2, THANK goodness for your insightful post. You wrote “Chewing on doorknobs, wrapping yourself in a curtain and humming are clear indications that there is probably something going on beyond simple “foolish misbehavior.”
You are exactly right.
All of those are signs of a child who has somethng going on other than foolish behavior.
One would expect someone who was educated to educate children would know that simple fact.

3rd Grade Teacher

April 28th, 2012
7:10 am

1) Every classroom on my grade level has at least one child on the homeroom roster with this level of emotional instability. The majority of these kids are special Ed, but taught under the least restrictive environment protocol. Not, all, however, are Special Ed. And, yes… A school resource officer has been called on a number of events.

2) The child in the above article, however, does not appear to be a Special Ed child due to testing with a larger class. Special Ed students typically test in a small group setting.

3) Classroom teachers are often blamed by tired administrators for not doing “something” different to deescalate a situation.

I believe in public education as both a teacher and a parent with a child in the schools. But, the public is only just now beginning to grasp the impact of how many emotionally troubled children sit in one school every day, impacting all those around them.

The Real Issue

April 28th, 2012
7:28 am

The Real Issue is that teachers do not have the training, the materials or the authority to do what is needed. The tax payers need to pay for every teacher to have regular firearms lessons and they need to pay for every teacher to have a gun in her classroom.
Then, when children dare to show anxiety or have a tantrum in their classroom, the teacher should have the authority to put the children in jail. We need to spend our tax payer money more wisely and build jails for children. We could save a lot of tax payer money if we just hooked up these horrific six year olds to chains and balls and send them out to quarries to bust rocks. That’s what we need in this country, more jails for kids.
We don’t need to waste money on judges or juries or lawyers for these creatures either. They don’t deserve justice or an evaluation to determine if they have a condition. Conditions are for the weak and we need to get rid of everyone who is weak in any way. Those with diagnosed conditions should be just kept behind bars with no sunlght and no interaction with other human beings because they are a waste of society’s time and money.
We need to give all teachers the ultimate authority to make all the decisions because they have education degrees and everyone knows education degrees are only given to the most intelligent people on the planet.

Jayne

April 28th, 2012
8:06 am

Don’t kid yourselves. While this is a problem in the public schools it reflects a problem in the society that feeds our schools. These children are the dysfunctional result of dysfunctional parenting in a society that is increasingly unwilling to insist upon norms of behavior. While the schools may suffer first, we are seeing the effects seep into every domain of our culture.
This kid belonged in handcuffs but it won’t solve the real problem and the real problem is a lot bigger than this child, this family or this school.
Entire structures of our culture, once built on a broad consensus of what was right, fair and just will be replaced becasue that consensus has broken down. Schools are just one of the items on the list..

bootney farnsworth

April 28th, 2012
9:03 am

the main reason I’d call the police?
cover my ass with district admin.

they’ll be pissed I called the police, but its better than the hell they’d rain down for not calling and some student or volunteer got
hurt.

keeping in mind junior could stab one of us in the throat with a pencil and its our fault for not getting out of his way

bu2

April 28th, 2012
9:54 am

Sure they needed to call the police. He ran off and left the building. He was a 5th grader, not a kindergartner.

We don’t know what, if any, issues this child had or if anyone escalated the situation or if he blew up on his own. But its quite possible his foolish wrapping himself in a curtain and humming were his quite logical efforts to regulate and get himself under control. Maybe this child was just having a trantrum, but a lot of the behavior looks like things an autistic child would do.

The school might be putting him and the teacher in situations where both can fail. When we looked at public schools they told us we would have to go into a regular classroom with 25 other kids and no special provisions. From our experience in a pre-school where, unlike the public school, the school worked with us, we knew that situation wouldn’t work. We explained that it would be disruptive (nothing like the above child, but still disruptive) to the class and bad for our child. They still wouldn’t do anything. We, finally, after many interviews, found a private school that would accept her. We didn’t want to put her in that public school setting that would be bad for everyone, but for a time we thought we might not have any alternative.

mountain man

April 28th, 2012
10:01 am

“IDEA says the disabled children have a right to an education in the least restrictive environment.”

And says nothing about the rights of the regular students. Hence, the schools put them in regular classes to protect themselves legally from IDEA lawsuits, and we have the current educational system. Dumb down the class so that one child can be taught a subject that may be light years over their head. That is the failure of “mainstreaming”.

The vents have been full of very accurate observations about the difference in public schools and private schools. Private schools don’t have to take SPED students, private schools don’t have to take discipline problems, if a child is disobedient in a private school, they are kicked out. That is why private schools can focus on giving the regular student a better education.

Lynn43

April 28th, 2012
10:39 am

Google “Bad Behavior looking for a disability excuse”. Too many parents who have not disciplined or do not want to discipline their children are looking for an excuse for the results of their bad parenting. I deal with a child (not in a school setting) every week where this is the situation. I taught over 30 years and can tell the difference between no discipline and a real problem.

Lynn43

April 28th, 2012
10:43 am

I would love to see parents of students who act in a civil manner band together and start insisting that their children have “rights”. Get some legislation passed.

Teachers Rule!

April 28th, 2012
12:32 pm

Autism is not real. It is just a made up condition by bungling bureaucratic administrators at the Board of Education who know nothing about education because they don’t teach in the real world. Only teachers know anything about education because they have education degees and those degrees are the hardest degrees in the whole world to earn.
BU2 should not be allowed to speculate about what conditions a child may have because everyone knows that there are no special needs children. We only have bad parents. Parents are the cause of all the problmes in the world and BU2 should not be allowed to think anyone could need something different than what the teacher is willing to give.
BU2 makes logical sense and that is not allowed. Common sense and logical arguments are things made up by bureaucratic know-nothings at the DOE just to annoy teachers.

Jack in Cumming

April 28th, 2012
1:41 pm

I say we start sterilizing bad kids

Prof

April 28th, 2012
2:02 pm

@ Teachers Rule! April 28, 12:32 pm.

What’s the target of your sarcasm here? I believe from other posts that Bu2 is a teacher. And if you check this blog-thread and the earlier 2 on this subject, you’ll see that it’s the teachers generally who are suggesting that some sort of disability may be behind such classroom behavior, while it’s the parents who are urging that all the child needs is a “whupping.”

I'm a teacher

April 28th, 2012
3:35 pm

Teachers Rule! that was a totally useless post – now on to an intelligent discussion of a real problem in the public school system.

Students with behavior issues generally fall into two categories – those with real (medically based) problems and those who have never been taught nor expected to behave in a self-controlled manner. The first you can deal with – differing amounts of education and medication – in this case (in most instances) the parents work with the schools as a team (in the ones that it does not work that way – some are the fault of the school and some are the fault of the parent). The second group – there is not a lot that can be done in the educational system because there is NO support from home. These kids have never been expected to behave – all misbehavior (in this second group) is excused by the parents – because that is easier (in the short term). Another point on this subject – teachers are not allowed to try to physically control these kids – you are basically told – don’t touch them. There is no faster way to invite a lawsuit than to “lay hands” on a student in any way – to the extent that if a child is storming around the room and you don’t get out of their way – you (the teacher) is at fault (for not getting out of the way).

Finally -IDEA is all about accommodation (what everyone else does because the child has a problem) – not about teaching the kids to deal with their disability. I agree with many posters here – more parents of “regular” ed kids need to speak up and bring lawsuits dealing with their child being negatively impacted – both educationally and safety wise – by indiscriminate inclusion.

catlady

April 28th, 2012
5:53 pm

Lynn43: I agree with you whole-heartedly. Why not demand LRE for OUR kids? MY kids should have the right not to have to put up with the malarkey that goes on from other kids getting their LRE. Why does that seem to apply to only sped kids? And, not to dump on sped kids, because there are many kids out there, either undiagnosed or just mean as h3ll, that disrupt our children’s education on a daily basis! Yet the school systems seem to think they are powerless to act!

Bev: You forgot “rigorously”.

A couple of years ago I had a third grader (8) tell me he couldn’t control himself that day, that I had better watch out, his mom hadn’t given him his medicine, and he had “anger control issues.” Now, when a kid can tell you that…. Same kid was fought over by his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles BECAUSE OF HIS DISABILITY CHECK! Now Why in the H3ll does an 8 year old draw a disability check?!

I wish this was the only time I have had a kid tell me that I couldn’t expect anything out of them because they were (fill in the blank with the diagnosis du jour).

In one class I push into this year there are 6 kids who are on psychotropic drugs, and 4 who see a shrink! Out of 17 kids (the 5 sped get pulled out)!

ParaProf

April 28th, 2012
7:26 pm

Teacherse are the smartest people on the planet and there is one kind of teacher that is more better smart than any other kind of teacher and that is a professor. We all watched Gilligan’s Island and know that every professor is smarter than evry other person on the planet because professors invent all kinds of cool things out of coconuts.
The professor on Gilligan’s Island could never do anyting to get the castaways off the island because of the CRCT tests, which prevented him from diong his job. If it weren’t for CRCT tests the professor could do his job and get Gilligan and Skipper and the rest off the island.

Prof

April 28th, 2012
8:55 pm

Teachers Rule!/ ParaProf. Definitely a high school student.

ms. teacher

April 29th, 2012
11:51 am

Just in this school year the following has happened at my school: chairs/books/pencils/etc. being thrown at teachers, knives brought to school, students touching teachers inappropriately, students throwing fits and knocking over furniture in the front office and in classrooms, and student attempting sexual acts in hallways, bathrooms, and classrooms. And, this is with great behavior management at an award-winning school. The reality is that kids will act in unpredictable manners. I’m all for and practice strong behavior management,but at the same time, work (school) should be a safe place for the faculty as well. If it comes to a point wherein I feel I need to restrain a student for his/her safety and the safety of my students and me, I’ll call the school officer. I’m not losing my job because of the chance that a parent/student might claim abuse and/or inappropriate touch simply because I’m doing my job.

Soccermom

April 29th, 2012
3:15 pm

Lynn43

“I would love to see parents of students who act in a civil manner band together and start insisting that their children have “rights”.”

As the mom of 2 children who are well-behaved and intelligent, I am tired of my children getting cheated of their instructional time and classroom work time because of kids who can’t or won’t behave in an acceptable manner! You know, the kids who constantly cause trouble. School Boards and Administrators – grow a set! Establish and enforce policies to take their misbehaving butts out of the classroom! I don’t care what the reason for their misbehavior is. If they can’t behave, the rights of that majority of students who ARE behaving in the classroom trump these miscreants’ rights to be there.

V for Vendetta

April 29th, 2012
3:42 pm

Soccermom,

We/they can’t because the misbehaving students get labeled EBD, which falls under the umbrella of special education. Therefore, the law is (enormously) on their side, and all teachers and administrators cower in fear of it because if they aren’t “served” properly we could get fired or some other such nonsense. Maybe the child in question is autistic. So what? As bu2 suggested, the way most special ed. students are integrated into mainstream classrooms is not good for ANY of the students involved.

But the law is on their side, and it will take an act of the god I don’t believe in to change it.

Archie@Arkham Asylum

April 29th, 2012
7:22 pm

At the risk of sounding like the “prophet of doom,” Georgia is one of the few states left that has a “pullout” program for special education students. Most of the other states have bowed to the “politically correct” inevitable and have put their special education students in regular classrooms regardless of their ability to benefit from it. Autism certainly exists and I have worked with my share of them but I sometimes wonder if that term isn’t becoming somewhat “trendy.” I saw the same thing happen with terms like “Dyslexia” and “Minimal Brain Dysfunction,” they became “catch-alls” something along the line of “We can’t come up with anything else to explain this kid’s behavior so he must be________. (Fill in appropriate “term de jour”). At one time, parents were coaching their kids to act out or mess up academically so they would be labeled special ed. and would start receiving the coveted “crazy check” (a.k.a. SSI) I think now to get SSI, the condition has to be medically identifiable and EBD won’t cut it! However, if a kid gets an IEP and a special ed. “label” to go along with it, they cannot be suspended more than 10 days in a school year unless it can be proven that their behavior is not a manifestation of their disability! I would like to go on record as saying that I do not believe that a special ed. student should be allowed to behave in a manner that would get an adult put into the “iron hotel.” There is an incentive for schools to get law enforcement involved in cases where students behave violently. Once law enforcement (and the court system) gets involved, it is technically out of the school’s hands.

mathmom

April 30th, 2012
11:56 am

Is it not true that parents have to agree to testing for special education? My experience has been that many parents refuse because of the sped “label.” However, habitually disruptive students should not be in regular classrooms, and it should not matter whether or not the disruptive students have been diagnosed with some disorder.