Opinion

When tantrums lead to handcuffs

Around the age of six, I engaged in my first fight…with my speech teacher. During one speech lesson, I became extremely irritable and could no longer sit through this woman’s tutoring. I proceeded to scream in defiance and kick her in her legs. After hearing, “No one kicks Mrs. Whoever,” I finally calmed down and the issue was resolved within five minutes. I was punished by my mother, but as I look back, at least I was not placed in handcuffs by three uniformed cops.

A young girl in a similar situation was not so lucky. According to MSNBC.com, the cameras were recording in a classroom at the Fairmount Park Elementary school in St. Petersburg, Fla., as a five-year-old girl became upset over an incident that happened in her math class. As the video shows, the girl can be seen swatting her arms at the assistant principle as she tries to calm the child. An hour after the situation began, three armed and uniformed police arrived at the school where they handcuffed the child and placed her in the police car. The teachers were apparently unable to handle the situation.

From the video, the child was not destructive nor did she in any way cause pain to the teachers. A small five-year-old girl can swing her arms, but she cannot throw a punch. She acted unruly as any other child throwing a tantrum.

I would like to know the type of adult that is unable to deal with a child’s hissy fit. What kind of society have we become that handcuffs a child for displaying her anger at something? Where do the police come off thinking that this situation needed to be dealt with like they were arresting a robber or a murderer?

The young girl could be heard repeatedly screaming “No!” on the video. It is a disgrace to the police and to this school that they felt the situation could only end in handcuffs. Elementary school teachers are supposed to deal with the problems of young children. Part of dealing with anger and being reprimanded when appropriate is all part of the childhood learning process. If the police were called every time a child became upset and started throwing a tantrum, they would have no time to arrest those delinquents who truly should be placed in handcuffs.

Where has the public’s reasoning and morals gone? If you cannot deal with the emotions of a five-year-old, then do not be a parent or work with children. We are dealing with a kindergarten student. Her short life has already begun with a traumatizing situation. The social values of our society are deteriorating. We rush to blame everyone else besides ourselves and do not take responsibility for our own actions. Common sense has been replaced by stupidity and ignorance. I am pleased to know that this is the education my future children will one day receive.

Sam Rega can be contacted at s.rega@umiami.edu.

April 26, 2005

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The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.