A 6-Year-Old Girl Was Handcuffed At School For Taking Candy

Now her mother is suing.


A woman is suing the Chicago Board of Education and a security guard for handcuffing her 6-year-old daughter at school after other students said she took candy off of a teacher’s desk. The incident took place in March.

Marlena Wordlow says her daughter, Madisyn Moore, was handcuffed by a school security guard and told to sit under a stairwell near the school boilers for about an hour. According to Wordlow’s lawsuit, Madisyn — who also has special needs — was “crying, sweating, and visibly scared and distraught.”

In an interview with the Daily News, Worldlow said the school security treated Madisyn harshly. “He said, ‘I’m teaching her a f — -g lesson. She took a piece of candy and I handcuffed her under the stairs,’” she said.

Worldlow said the candy was actually part of her child’s lunch.

After the incident, CPS fired the security guard and put a “do not hire” note on his personnel file, but Worldlow doesn’t think that’s good enough. She is now suing the guard for excessive force, intentionally inflicted emotional distress, and false imprisonment. Worldlow said CPS also has a responsibility to ensure that nothing like this happens again.

She said her child is now afraid of any person who wears a police uniform.

Unfortunately, this incident is all too common. Black students like Madisyn are disproportionately likely to be punished at school, and receive more suspensions and expulsions than students of other races, beginning as early as preschool. Disabled students also receive far more punishment than non-disabled students. And if a child is both black and disabled? Twenty-five percent of black students with disabilities were given at least one out-of-school suspension during the 2009–2010 school year, according to a report from the Discipline Disparities Research-to-Practice Collaborative.


Worldlow’s daughter’s experience is hardly unusual. This spring, a middle school student was handcuffed by a school resource officer after he was accused of stealing milk — even though, since he’s on the free school lunch program, he didn’t need to pay for it anyway. Last year, an eighth grade student was reportedly arrested and detained for six days after he threw Skittles on the bus.

It’s also more common for law enforcement officers to be involved in student discipline incidents involving black students. These officers have been accused of using excessive force to discipline students of color. The number of student resource officers has increased since the Columbine High School shooting, but training on how to handle incidents involving children is still inconsistent.

The Dangers Of Putting More Armed Guards In SchoolsThe National Rifle Association outraged many when CEO Wayne LaPierre blamed the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre…thinkprogress.orgAs Worldlow points out, these kind of experiences could affect children’s feelings around police for the rest of their lives. When police come to take a parent away from a child, children experience elevated levels of stress and anxiety — and because their brains are still developing, it is far more difficult for them to handle these kind of traumatic events. If that is how a child is affected by a parent being arrested by an officer, one can only imagine how a child feels being handcuffed themselves.