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Salecia Johnson vs the People: What Do Children Learn About Feelings From Teachers?

Posted by on April 23, 2012

salecia johnsonI recently read an article on the Los Angeles Times website about Georgia kindergarten student Salecia Johnson, whose temper tantrum ended her up in handcuffs, and wondered how it got that far. The journalist describes her ripping items off of the wall, biting a doorknob and pushing over a shelf. But not once did the article depict or explain any of the techniques the principal or teachers (admittedly in the room) were applying to convince the child to defuse her anger, distract her attention or assuage the conflict.

Children spend roughly 8 hours a day on school grounds roughly 9 ½ months of the year, on a nationwide average. Although parents are responsible for a great majority of their children’s well-rounded development, during the 40 hours a week at school of teacher lead instruction, the child’s comprehension, reasoning and rationale in that environment is influenced as well. The educational advancement and psychological support that occurs in school are requirements of any successful academic environment because it is understood that each child does not leave their emotions at home in the morning or at school at the end of the day.

The process is not about fixing families: it’s about teaching all of the students, not just the well-behaved ones. So, how does a six-year-old’s tantrum end up being resolved by county police officers with handcuffs and a ride to the local police department? The problem with police involvement in this situation is that they are trained to talk suicide attempts off of ledges, hardened criminals into giving up guns and to calmly rescue hysterical hostage victims out of dangerous situations but the only way to calm a six year old girl’s tantrum was to put her in handcuffs and drive her to the nearest station to wait for her parents. Like one article commenter said, “a tantrum is a psychological issue, not a criminal one.” The parents and school need to work together to provide Salecia Johnson and her classmates, who witnessed that day, with a great education on how to process one’s feelings and communicate calmly with others without fear of being arrested. Here are some great tips from childwelfare.gov on how to stop a tantrum before it starts. Next time your child is acting up, try them out! Whatever the results, they’re sure to be preferable to a ride in a police car.

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