Discipline (and lack thereof)

Baldilocks has a post up about the recent incident where a kindergartener is lead off in handcuffs after throwing an extended tantrum in school.

In a nutshell the kid threw a temper tantrum to such an extent that they evacuated the rest of her class from the room. She’s tearing up the classroom, and refusing all (far more patient than I could have been) attempts to get her to stop. (Most of this is on videotape, BTW). Finally she is taken to the principal’s office, which she promptly trashes as well. She tears apart the bulletin board, jumps up on the tables, repeatedly punches at the teacher, and Just Won’t Stop until… Oopsie! she realizes the police have just arrived. Suddenly she sits in the chair and for the first time takes on some semblance of behaving herself.

The police come in and escort her out in handcuffs.

Now, the family (well… the mother; No mention of a father in any of the stories I read…) has lawyered up and is suing. The police “overreacted” by putting their poor little baby in handcuffs.

I think handcuffs were entirely appropriate — probably the only option for someone so out of control. It’s worth noting that this is not the first time this particular kid has been this out of control — the cop knew her as he walked in, and refers to “the last time”.

(Had I been a teacher there I would have pinned her to the wall until the police arrived — and then I would probably be charged with assault for daring to lay a hand on the poor little defenseless darling.)

If you read the comments at Baldilocks you’ll see all kinds of comments that the girl must be “developmentally disabled” and such — as though it’s not really her fault. I have to call bullshit on that one — the most damning moment on the tape (yes I watched the tape) is when she goes from screeching hellion to well-behaved innocent the instant the police show up. She knows exactly what she is doing — she reacted to the police because she knew that finally there is someone there who can actually do something to stop her. Thus calming down is a calculated choice in the face of the first genuine threat of discipline.

The problem here is that she most likely goes home and the mother will show no concept that her dear little sweet girl might have done something _wrong_, so instead the girl hears the one pseudo-authority figure she has saying “Oh what did those mean people do to you? You didn’t deserve that!” Then they call a slimeball lawyer* to reinforce the “rightness” of her incredibly selfish behavior.

The mother has to be somehow convinced to take control of her daughter. If the state has to resort to legal measures (hold her responsible for the girl’s behavior?) or financial (maybe send her a bill for the teacher’s and police officer’s time needed to control the little animal?), or whatever — something need to be done so that the mother is made to realize that her daughter can not be permitted to act this way. This girl (and many undisciplined brats just like her) are headed straight for the penal system or the welfare line — an undue burden on society either way, even before we even consider having to deal with such people in our own lives. (Today’s brat is tomorrow’s asshole!)

If the mother can not be moved, then perhaps we need to bring corporeal punishment back to the classroom. If the one person who can discipline the child refuses to do so, then someone has to be given that authority — or the child is lost.

In this case it well may be too late.

*I don’t consider all lawyers to be slimeballs… but there sure are a lot of them who qualify. (and a cheery “hello” to all my “non-slimeball” lawyer friends and readers 🙂

3 Responses to “Discipline (and lack thereof)”

  1. Lawrence Says:

    Well said, I don’t think that I can add anything else.

  2. Ann Says:

    Mom should have come earlier. Mom should have taken the kid home. Yes and all that.
    But the kid is 5. Sorry, I have dealt with 5-year-olds and have had my own. That child was being, well, 5. Mom should have come and spanked her, but because Mom didn’t do her job, they called the police to handcuff the kid. Sorry, that is overkill. There’s just nothing a 5-year-old could do to damage an adult. How much could it take to restrain a child that little? Strict discipline was called for, but handcuffs is just ridiculous. Something’s really wrong there. 5-year-olds don’t need handcuffs. I don’t care what they have done.

  3. Strider Says:

    I guess my point is this….

    The mother won’t discipline. The teachers can’t discipline, (that is, they’re not permitted). It’s absolutely ludicrous (and an undue burden on society, frankly) to have to call the police *at all* for a five-year-old child, but the kid was so out of control, and the mother so irresponsible, that there was no other option.

    The little girl is so out of control because she has absolutely no fear of being disciplined, by anyone. I can only think that if she thought they were going to call the police (and she knew what that meant) she might have chosen to behave herself. Maybe, (just MAYBE!), she will remember this the next time she decides to act up, and it will give her reason to pause.

    Momma don’t care. The teachers (literally) can’t touch her. But now there is a real threat the next time a teacher tells her to knock it off.

    As I said above, though, the real answer (other than getting the mom to raise her damned kid) is to give the teachers a real, legal authority to discipline a disruptive child in a meaningful way (other than saying “oooh, don’t do that, that makes me feel bad,” as though that’s going to do _anything_). I’m not necessarily saying corporeal punishment, even — but sticking her in closet for ten minutes, rather than letting her trash the principal’s office, might have worked wonders.

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