Kindergarten Tantrum Results in Handcuffs

Have you seen the headlines? All those saying that this 6 year old girl in kindergarten threw a tantrum and got arrested? Well, I did. At first when I saw the news, I was appalled and thinking, “WTF? Who puts a 6 year old in handcuffs for a temper tantrum?” But then I read further and did some investigating.

The headlines are a bit misleading. Shocking, right? Calling the behavior of this girl a temper tantrum is like calling Hurricane Katrina a little bit of rain. I know temper tantrums. Gus throws them all the time. Huge ones. But this was not a tantrum.

This girl was throwing furniture, trying to break glass, and biting. She was ripping things off the wall and hurling them at people. It became very apparent the more I researched that she was clearly a threat to herself and to others. She threw things at whoever came close to her and was eventually put in the principal’s office to protect her from herself. Something had to be done. In the school’s defense, they called the parents first before the police but were unable to reach the parents.

I haven’t treated this girl, however, I’m fairly certain that she probably is suffering from a mental illness. The fit she threw is similar to those I’ve seen happen during the time I spent working on an in-patient child psychiatric unit. When kids become psychotic, they manifest superhero strength. Have you ever seen a cat thrown in water and then tried to contain the cat? It’s pretty similar.

The parents themselves reported that the girl suffers from “mood issues.” My guess is that she may have some form of severe depression resulting in psychosis or she may be one of the kids that would actually fit the criteria for a Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder.

It’s unfortunate that the police had to put her in handcuffs in order to transport her and to protect her. I’m sure the girl was absolutely terrified by the experience. The situation with the police may have been able to be avoided if the police department had a special response unit that was called to respond to mental health crises. Many states have these special units where officers are trained specifically to deal with mental health emergencies and how to respond appropriately. These units help to keep the individual safe while still maintaining their dignity and keeps them from being treated like your average criminal. Maybe this incident will force them to implement a unit. Let’s hope so.

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