Keep Handcuffs off Innocent Kids!!!

by Janice

She doodled on her desk.

Twelve year old New York student, Alexa Gonzalez,ny-girl-arrested-for-doodling merely took a green marker and wrote, “I love my friends Abby and Faith. Lex was here 2/1/10″on her desk at school and she found herself being handcuffed and escorted out of school in front of teachers and classmates!

While Alexa is no longer facing suspension, the girl spent three days missing school — and vomiting! — due to the incident.

And according to the Wall Street Journal:

Alexa’s case isn’t the first in the New York area. One of the first cases to gain national notoriety was that of Chelsea Fraser. In 2007, the 13-year-old wrote “Okay” on her desk, and police handcuffed and arrested her. She was one of several students arrested in the class that day; the others were accused of plastering the walls with stickers.

At schools across the country, police are being asked to step in. In November, a food fight at a middle school in Chicago, Illinois, resulted in the arrests of 25 children, some as young as 11, according to the Chicago Police Department.

The Strategy Center, a California-based civil rights group that tracks zero tolerance policies, found that at least 12,000 tickets were issued to tardy or truant students by Los Angeles Police Department and school security officers in 2008. The tickets tarnished students’ records and brought them into the juvenile court system, with fines of up to $250 for repeat offenders. quote – Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal also states that in New York City there are nearly 5,000 employees in the NYPD School Safety Division while in contrast, there are only about 3,000 counselors in New York City’s public school system!

What on EARTH is going on here?!? This is madness!!!

Police shouldn’t be arresting innocent children for minor discipline issues inside schools! Children need to be treated like children! Educators and counsellors need to be tending to students’ discipline needs — not police departments!

Handcuffs and arrests should only occur for criminal activity such as drug and weapon possesion or violent behavior. The only “zero tolerance” that should be happening is for “zero tolerance” itself!

The whole concept of “zero tolerance” is fundamentally flawed. It removes the opportunity for wisdom and common sense to be applied to individual situations.

We are not going to make schools safer by treating children like criminals. We are going to make schools safer by creating nurturing, understanding environments with appropriate discipline and adequate counselling and support for students.


Written by Janice Croze, co-founder of 5 Minutes for Mom. Janice spent six years as a youth worker before deciding to find a way to work from home so she could spend more time with her children. Along with her sister Susan, she also owns two online stores — Pedal Cars and Retro Collectibles and a A Rocking Horse to Love.

Don’t miss any posts with 5 Minutes for Mom’s feed. Janice also tweets at @5minutesformom and @janicecroze.



Email Author    |    Website About Janice

Janice is co-founder of 5 Minutes For Mom. She's been working online since 2003 and is thankful her days are full of social media, writing and photography. You can see more of her photos at janicecrozephotography.com.

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Robyn Popham February 21, 2010 at 12:40 am

Unbelievable. I feel so blessed that my kids go to a school where they use common sense. I am beginning to think they should start calling it un-common sense, because less and less people seem to have it!

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2 jerrica puckett February 21, 2010 at 1:26 am

This is just beyond ridiculous!
Okay, so they shouldn’t have done what they did. We get that. Have the child/children clean up whatever mess that they’ve made OR give them a day of ISS, but don’t arrest them.
Arrest the people that bring guns to school.
Arrest the people that are brutally attacking others.
Arrest the people that are stealing.
Don’t arrest CHILDREN for doing something that [almost] every person has done at some point in their lives – something so harmless.

Frustrating to know, but great post!!

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3 Janice February 21, 2010 at 1:26 am

Yes Robyn – that is sadly true isn’t it. Common sense seems to be in a shorter supply lately.

Hopefully these isolated incidents will just serve as reminders that common sense must always win over zero tolerance!

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4 Janice February 21, 2010 at 1:27 am

Yes Jerrica — I agree!!! Thanks so much for sharing your opinion!!!

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5 don February 21, 2010 at 4:00 am

Police shouldn’t be arresting innocent children????

They were acting like little rotten brats! They were destroying school property. Innocent, ohhh give me a break. The deserved it!! Good. I hope more of these kids today that have no respect for property and others get their hands slapped and put cuffs on. GOOD!!!! STFU you liberal weenies!

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6 Susie's Homemade February 21, 2010 at 9:32 am

Seriously? Have we lost our collective minds?

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7 Marj McClendon February 21, 2010 at 9:50 am

Jerrica said it spot on. A session after school to clean the desk (if possible) is a more appropriate punishment. Zero Tolerance should be for drunk drivers……..not children.

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8 Gattina February 21, 2010 at 11:13 am

This is so unbelievable that it is hard for me to believe it ! If understand well, you can go to class with a gun and knive kill your classmates and teachers but you are not allowed to have a little fun by writing something friendly on a desk ? The responsible who allows that, should be locked in in a madhouse ! In most of the European countries, teens under 15 can’t be arrested and put in handcuffs ! that’s crazy ! they can be held in a youth section until the parents show up, but certainly not for such a little thing.

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9 Mel February 21, 2010 at 11:43 am

That is absolutely ridiculous! How can you arrest an 11 year old for anything??? I could not imagine my 10 y/o getting arrested for doing that at school. While it’s not right to ruin school property, I don’t think it’s deserving of arrest. I would literally go off on someone and probably be arrested myself if someone did that to my kid.

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10 Tammi February 21, 2010 at 11:46 am

That is BY FAR the dumbest thing I have heard in a while….{shaking my head}

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11 Jennifer-Eighty MPH Mom February 21, 2010 at 11:49 am

This is UNREAL!! Zero tolerance, I thought, was more to curb drugs, weapons, etc. This is a horrible ordeal for this young girl and her parents to go through, not to mention the embarrassment for years to come. If I were her parent, I would be livid (I already am, even though she is not my child).

Drawing on a desk? Arresting her for that? I am pretty much speechless!

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12 Mindy February 21, 2010 at 12:46 pm

It kind of terrifies me how much school systems rely on the police/court systems to handle basic discplinary actions (like the police do not have better things to do) but I also spend time around middle-schoolers, rural not urban, and the lack of respect for both teacher and property is just disgraceful.

Teachers are now so restricted in how they can react to actions of their students and kids know this…teachers can hardly even raise their voices anymore for fear of disciplinary action against THEM, and the offending student sits smug and unpunished.

Schools are farming out what used to be handled “in house” to protect themselves and designing zero-tolerance policies to cover themselves against litigation…doodlers do NOT belong in handcuffs…but school systems are terrified of punishing students themselves anymore.

What ever happened to the usual scale of punishment? Letter home or phone call to parents, detention, in-school suspension, 3-day suspension, expulsion? Now it is “call the cops” and let them handle it.

What a monster we have created.

mindy~

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13 Alexandra February 21, 2010 at 2:08 pm

how awful!!!! that poor girl. I remember doing stuff like that as a child and I also remember getting disiplined PROPERLY!!!

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14 Kirsten T. February 21, 2010 at 3:43 pm

While on the surface, I would wholeheartedly agree that this is quite an overreaction. However, we have no idea what the backstory is. Has this kid exhibited other negative behaviours, has she been disciplined many times to no avail, is she escalating in her disrespect for people and property, how have her parents assisted the school, etc?? Maybe this was a way for the teacher to use a policy (whether truly warranted or not) to scare some sense into the kid. Although highly embarrassing, I guarantee this kid won’t be doing something like this again.

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15 Hollie February 21, 2010 at 4:44 pm

I have watched the opposite end of the spectrum here in Nova Scotia.

As bullying and teachers and principal not following a policy left a student going to the emergency room three times last year.

There needs to be a balance.

Policies can be a good thing if they are applied in ways that are smart. Consquences need to be matched to the action.

As well if the child is an IEP student were supports in place so they understand and could follow said policies.

These are all important.

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16 Joy February 21, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Anyone participating in this unbelievable incident should be arrested themselves! How can anyone think this is acceptable??!! What is this world coming to? Homeschooling looks like the right choice for me if this continues.

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17 Katie February 21, 2010 at 6:46 pm

This is so totally ridiculous! I can’t believe common sense hasn’t over ruled these ridiculous and demeaning forms to intervention. Shouldn’t school officials have better things to do with their time? I am thankful the two schools in two different states I taught in were lead by administration with more sense.

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18 Cascia February 21, 2010 at 6:48 pm

I agree with you. This should not be happening in our schools. This is among the several reasons why I will not send my kids to a public school.

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19 Miki February 21, 2010 at 8:11 pm

I wholeheartedly agree with this article. There are more pressing issues facing schools, like bullies, drugs, etc. I’ll take a kid drawing on a desk anyway to other behavioral issues like cursing at teachers and other more inappropriate behaviors. Seriously, what happened to common sense? Miki

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20 Old School/New School Mom February 21, 2010 at 8:48 pm

As someone who lives in NYC, I am ashamed to admit that this is going on. I cannot believe the humiliation these kids are facing for simply expressing themselves. This is tragic. A child writes how much she loves her friends, an expression of affection (albeit she shouldn’t be vandalizing property) but nonetheless, she should not be treated like an adult criminal. It seems we are equating these small mishaps with real crimes.

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21 Deb - Mom of 3 Girls February 21, 2010 at 10:56 pm

I saw this news story the other day and was absolutely flabbergasted that anyone could do something to a child just for writing on her desk! Obviously not something she should be doing – but certainly not a criminal act where police and handcuffs should be involved. I can’t believe that school officials are ok with this – that poor girl. I love your statement that, “The only “zero tolerance” that should be happening is for “zero tolerance” itself!” Awesome post, ladies – and hopefully the school district will re-think its policies before any other children are arrested.

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22 Forgetfulone February 21, 2010 at 11:24 pm

I don’t know the details of the cases you mentioned, so maybe they went overboard, maybe not. We don’t know the whole story! Only what the liberal media wants us to know. There is certainly more to the story than a “sweet, innocent girl” drawing on her desk with permanent marker (that are banned from schools for both this reason and because kids sniff them to get high.)

As a middle school teacher for the last 21 years, I have never seen a student handcuffed in our schools that didn’t deserve and need to be handcuffed.

I also think that if you’ve never taught in a public school, you have no right to criticize what the schools are doing. Public schools are faced with so many issues the public is completely unaware of, and it is not our place to criticize them until we walk a mile in their shoes. I’m positive they had reasons for doing what they did.

Go work in a public school for one week, then see how quick you are to judge what the school officials deem as appropriate and necessary. If then you agree, criticize away.

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23 Forgetfulone February 21, 2010 at 11:28 pm

Don, you said it all! We have no idea what they were really arrested for. When the whole story comes out, it certainly will be pushed to the back of the paper because it will show the school did what was necessary. Sweet, innocent girls don’t write on their desks with permanent markers. Just doens’t happen. And the girl in the photo appears sweet and innocent. But so did the 14 year old girl who was on trial in Houston recently for participating in a gang fight. She seemed so sweet and innocent.

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24 Michelle Pixie February 22, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Such scary times and I have already made the decision that once my girls hit middle school I will home school but with each passing story I am thinking more and more I will start homeschooling sooner. I was watching GMA this morning and there was a story about the school that issued laptops to the kids and then was watching what they were doing at home through the video camera on the laptop!

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25 Lena February 22, 2010 at 4:57 pm

I went to school in Brooklyn, NY and we had a security guard on every floor at all times. If there was any issue, argument and disagreement between the student and the teacher, security guard immediately got involved. Teachers were AFRAID of the children, there was no respect, no authority. There was NO WAY teachers could discipline them.

I agree with those comments who wonder if we don’t know the whole story.

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26 Summur Braley February 22, 2010 at 11:34 pm

Disgusting!!!! Meanwhile rapists are free!

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27 Holly at Tropic of Mom February 23, 2010 at 5:02 pm

I agree. I heard this story too. Whatever happened to good ol’ fashion consequences like coming in on a Saturday to clean all the desks? Handcuffing is going too far.

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28 Krista February 25, 2010 at 5:59 pm

While this incident in itself is sad, from a teacher’s perspective sometimes your discipline just doesn’t work. And if no one (parents!) will back you up, you have no recourse. What we have here is not a teaching failure, it’s a society failure. Parents are not teaching their children at home to respect other people and property and then they are not backing up the teachers when their “innocent angel” gets in trouble, only telling the kid that they can get away with anything. And we wonder why we have so many failing students and schools? It’s because teachers can’t do the job they need to do – teach – because they have to spend so much time on classroom “management”.

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29 Forgetfulone February 25, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Krista, Thank you. You get it! That is THE whole problem with education today. Parents often don’t do their jobs, so we (teachers) can’t do ours. I’m not buying this story for a minute, nor am I buying the story of the video cameras in the laptops. Ridiculous.

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30 Dennis July 3, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Well, maybe we should reinstate corporal punishment instead.. I guess a good beating would work better? Think about it people, these kids run amuck in our school system, writing on tables on walls tearing up text books. Who pays for all this damage? WE DO! the tax payers.

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