Was the police using excessive force when handling an 8-year-old who was having a temper tantrum? According to The Christian Science Monitor published yesterday, "On Tuesday, Alton, Ill., police placed an 8-year-old girl in handcuffs … in a juvenile detention room to wait for her guardian to pick her up.”
The Christian Science Monitor asked the question, “When you are a teacher or principal and you have an unruly child when is it time to call in the police? LoveJoy Elementary School in Alton had to deal with this situation when eight-year-old Jmyha Rickman, who is in a special behavior disorder class, threw a tantrum. Reports say the girl was "out of control and tearing up two classrooms."
When the school could not control the situation they called the police who put the child in handcuffs and send her to a detention center where she waited for her guardian to pick her up. The Christian Science Monitor goes on to say, “The girl’s uncle and guardian Nehemiah Keeton, who has cared for her since she was less than two-weeks-old …, arrived to pick up his niece two hours after being called. Keeton said, according to The Telegraph in Alton, Ill., that he had to leave his janitorial job in St. Louis – about 23 miles away – to pick her up.”
Mr. Keeton reported that his niece asked to use the washroom several times while in detention and was denied. The police threatened not to call Mr. Keeton if the little girl did not stop kicking the chair. The child was not only handcuffed by the wrists but by the ankles as well. Mr. Keaton has decided not to send the child back to school for her own safety. He said she has been having nightmares over the treatment she received. Furthermore, he says he will press charges. Given that the child is a special needs child the procedure explained by the school is to call the parent or guardian first to pick up the child. Mr. Keeton informed them he was on his way. Yet they called the police and sent her away before Mr. Keeton had a chance to get to the school.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke report that, “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior. Autistic disorder, sometimes called autism or classical ASD, is the most severe form of ASD, while other conditions along the spectrum include a milder form known as Asperger syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS). Although ASD varies significantly in character and severity, it occurs in all ethnic and socioeconomic groups and affects every age group. Experts estimate that 1 out of 88 children age 8 will have an ASD (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, March 30, 2012). Males are four times more likely to have an ASD than females.”
Keeton says, “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.”
According to UPI.com, “Officers in the Alton, Illinois Police Department are defending their decision to restrain Jmiyha Rickman, who is autistic, after she tried to hit a school resource officer and tore up two classrooms. According to Mr. Keeton the little girl also suffers from depression and anxiety.