By all accounts, Jmyha Rickman sounds like a troubled little girl.
According to the New York Daily News (via KMOV.com), the 8-year-old was misbehaving, or “tearing up two classrooms”, in school earlier this week when administrators called police to come and take her away.
Her feet and wrists were cuffed and she was hauled out of the Lovejoy Elementary School in St. Louis to the police station in the back of a police car. According to Jmyha’s guardian, she was in police custody for two hours, during which time she was denied the right to use the bathroom.
There’s no question 8-year-olds have the ability to be disruptive, disturbed, unruly, violent, inappropriate, impolite and obnoxious.
But this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone — especially not to educators. Schools should have plans in place for dealing with out-of-control children that don’t involve shackles and a jail cell (or what police said was a “supervised juvenile detention room”).
If Jmyha’s outburst was that bad, she’s probably had others before (and, indeed, school officials told KMOV she has a history of throwing tantrums at school to the extent that she has been physically restrained and held down, and her uncle said she has a history of anxiety problems, including separation anxiety). If that’s the case, has she seen the school psychologist or an outside one? Has her family ever been to school to talk with her teacher and administrators about her behavior? How does the school handle other disruptive kids? Was there nowhere in the school Jmyha could be taken to calm down where she couldn’t hurt herself or others? Is there no one at the school trained to handle children with potential emotional (or other) issues?
Violence isn’t okay, but subjecting a child that young to a jail cell and hand and ankle restraints just can’t possibly do much to help make the situation much better, either.
For their part, the school says they stand by their decision to involve police, telling KMOV it’s something they do on occasion “as a last resort…when the parents refuse to pick up the child.” Jmyha’s uncle told the TV station he was coming to pick up his niece, but that the school didn’t wait for him to get there before calling law enforcement officials.
Jmyha is now said to be “too afraid” to go back to school. Can you blame her?
Photo credit: iStock
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