An 8-year-old girl was handcuffed and taken to jail for throwing a tantrum at her school, officials report. The school has stood by its decision to handcuff the child even though it is receiving national attention and ire from parents.
"As a last resort, we sometimes have to involve law enforcement," Alton, Ill. Schools Assistant Superintendent Kristi Baumgartner told KMOV-TV. "They take the student into protective custody when the parent refuses to pick up the child."
The incident occurred at Lovejoy Elementary School in Alton, Ill. on Tuesday. Jmyha Rickman, 8, began throwing a tantrum that led school officials to call the police. The girl was then handcuffed and taken to the police station and put in a juvenile detention room until her guardian arrived.
"Her eyes were swollen from her crying and her wrists had welts on them," Nehemiah Keeton, Jmyha's uncle, told KMOV.
He picked up his niece two hours after being called by school officials, but told KMOV he made it clear that he was on his way to pick her up from the school. Unfortunately, during that time, officials made the decision to take her to the precinct, which is where Keeton found his niece.
"I feel like if you can't handle an 8-year-old child without calling the police to put fear in them like my child, you don't need to work with kids," Keeton said.
"I trusted the school to give her the adequate treatment and care she deserves and they failed us," Keeton told KSDK News. "Every time they have ever called me I have always responded, that's why I did not understand why did they have to go to that extreme to dial 911? They knew I was coming. To have to know that her feet, her hands and her waist was cuffed, she was shackled. I feel like they went above and beyond."
"I will tell you in this particular case it was necessary to protect that child by restraining that child," Captain Scott Waldrup told KSDK.
Jmyha's family told the news station she is autistic and suffers from separation anxiety. She is now too scared to go back to the school, and Keeton has said that she will be homeschooled until he finds a new school for her to attend.
Watch an interview with Keeton here: