6-year-old girl’s tantrum arrest

After throwing a tantrum in her elementary class, a six-year-old Georgia girl was cuffed and stuffed into a police cruiser last Friday and charged with simple assault and property damage, according to The Smoking Gun. The police chief defended the action as a safety measure.

“She resisted!”

According to various news reports, the girl was arrested after violently tearing items off the walls and vandalising school furniture. The girl allegedly knocked over a shelf that injured the school principal. The girl was apparently crying in the principal's office at Creekside Elementary before police arrived. When the officer tried to calm the child, she resisted and was handcuffed.

Family outraged

The girl's family demanded that their central Georgia city change policy so that other children aren't treated the same way. They say the child was shaken up by the ordeal.

The girl was also suspended until August.

While it's unusual to see a young child handcuffed in school, it's not unheard of. School officials around the nation have wrestled with the issue of when it's appropriate to call police on a student.

Criminals or just regular kids?

In Florida, the use of police in schools came up several years ago when officers arrested a kindergarten student who threw a tantrum during a jelly bean-counting contest. Since then, the overall number of student arrests in Florida has declined, but those for minor offences have increased on a percentage basis. A bill was proposed this year to restrict police from arresting kids for misdemeanours or other acts that do not pose serious safety threats.

In South Africa, a child may not be arrested without informing the parents/guardians of the child. If your child is arrested for a criminal offence and they are under 17 years old, the police must tell you as soon as possible. The police should not interview your child until you are present, unless a delay would mean an immediate risk of harm to someone or serious loss of, or damage to, property. In such cases the police have to ensure that an independent 'appropriate adult' is present to make sure your child is treated fairly. Your child has the same rights to legal advice as an adult.

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