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School, Police, Community Weigh in on Six-Year Old's Arrest

Posted: Aug 27, 2013 2:08 PM by Eric Hilt, KOMU 8 Reporter
Updated: Aug 27, 2013 7:11 PM

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COLUMBIA - A child's arrest has sparked reaction from police, the school district, and the community. Police arrested a six-year-old at Mill Creek Elementary School Friday. Tuesday, the principal sent a letter to parents in response to police reports that a student assaulted a faculty member and threw and broke items.

Parents of students at Mill Creek told KOMU 8 News the parents were having trouble with the child at home. Sgt. Joe Bernhard of the Columbia Police Department said the parents contacted the police department.

Bernhard said the child was in an in-school suspension room when parents called authorities.

Social worker Debbie Danner said depending on the child, the arrest could have a lasting impact.

"Some children would find it exciting and a source of great storytelling, but the majority of children would probably be labeled by it and they would also be the source of bullying because of it," Danner said.

She said it depends on the details of the problem and the child, but in most cases she does not recommend calling the police on your child.

"Sometimes there's children that simply need that law enforcement perspective, but a six-year-old...ideally there would be other alternatives," Danner said.

Danner recommended parents use community resources and take time to be involved in their kids' lives. She added it is important to be proactive against behavior problems instead of reactive.

In the email to parents, Principal Tabetha Rawlings said student privacy regulations prevented her from giving out details, but ensured parents their kids were safe and the school did not call the police.

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