NEW YORK, April 21 (UPI) -- The mother of a 7-year-old New York boy says the child was handcuffed by police at his school after becoming upset while decorating an Easter egg.
Jessica Anderson said her son, Joseph, a special-education first-grader at P.S. 153 in Queens, was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center in metal cuffs April 13 even though she told school officials she was on her way to pick him up, the New York Daily News reported Thursday.
"He was crying and saying, 'I want Mommy,'" Anderson told the newspaper. "Why handcuff him? Why get the cops involved? He's only 7."
City Education Department officials said school staff took the drastic step to protect the boy and his classmates after the Easter egg tantrum.
"The school tried to defuse the situation and then called for outside assistance when there was a concern the child would harm himself or others," department spokeswoman Marge Feinberg said.
Anderson said the school called her about 12:30 p.m. to tell her Joseph, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, delayed speech and emotional problems, was upset.
She said she left her job in Manhattan and arrived at the school, but her son was already gone.
She didn't find out about the handcuffs until she arrived at the hospital, she said.
"I was crying. I broke down," she said. "They know that my son is special ed. It's like they're trying to get rid of him, and it worked because I'm not sending him back there."
Police defended the decision to handcuff the child, saying in a statement that he was "acting in a threatening manner."