6-year-old involuntarily committed to mental hospital, mother speaks out

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Florida mom says she is outraged after her 6-year-old son was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital for 72 hours, WJAX-TV reports.

A school administrator at Wayman Academy of the Arts said the boy was throwing book bags and punching walls before being committed to the mental hospital.

The boy’s mom, who did not want to be identified, told WJAX-TV her son is too young to be locked up in a mental hospital.

However, under Florida’s Baker Act, any person at risk of hurting themselves others can be involuntarily committed regardless of their age.

The boy’s mom said she wished the school had handled the situation differently.

“I know that that’s behavior that’s not tolerated in the classroom. But there’s other ways you can handle that. Call a parent before you say, ‘Well, I’m going to Baker Act your child. I’m calling the police’ — on a 6-year-old,” she said.

The school board’s chairman sent WJAX-TV the following statement:

“Wayman Academy of the Arts strives daily to provide a safe, nurturing learning environment for all of our students. In that regard, we recently contacted JSO regarding an incident involving one of our students. While investigating that incident, the JSO officer noticed the behavior of another student, and determined to restrain the child in accordance with the law commonly referred to as the Baker Act. In accordance with law, only physicians, judges, mental health professionals and law enforcement officials can initiate such an action. As such, Wayman Academy of the Arts did not initiate this action, but we support the professional judgement of law enforcement officials when they determine that the safety of the child is in question, as well as the safety of other students and staff. For 18 years, we have worked with students and families from all walks of life to provide a top quality education, which is reflected in Wayman Academy being an “A” rated school. We will continue to work with this child and the parents to make sure the child receives the needed services and support to ensure the child’s academic and behavioral success. While we would like to provide more detailed information, we respect the privacy of the student and the family as we work toward an amicable conclusion to this issue.”