By Judith Browne Dianis
America’s Wire Writers Group
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 istraumatized, having difficulty adjusting back to school and maynever 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.