Is this a sign of the times, an overreaction, or both?
That's the question surrounding a case in Colorado, where an 11-year-old boy was arrested in October for drawing a stick-figure picture depicting him shooting three other people and the accompanying phrase "teachers must die" at school. The picture, however, was the product of instructions from the boy's therapist, who told him to draw instead of act out in class when his attention deficit disorder flares up.
Now, the parents are furious after the boy was hauled from home in handcuffs and faces misdemeanor charges:
The school was aware that the boy was in treatment, determined he was not a threat, notified his parents and sent him back to class. His mother, “Jane” was shocked when Arvada Police showed up at their home later that night.
She says she told her son to cooperate and tell the truth, but was horrified when they told her they were arresting him and then handcuffed him and hauled him away in a patrol car. His mother says she begged police to let her drive her son to the police department and to let her stay with him through the booking process but they refused.
They put him in a cell, took his mug shot and fingerprinted him. He says he thought he was going to jail and would never be able to go home again.
According to the police report, “Tim” explained he made the drawing to release anger and would never hurt teachers or anyone. At first the school did not want to press charges, but changed their mind when police called them later that night. A juvenile assessment report shows he’s never been in legal trouble before and is at low risk to reoffend.
He’s charged with a third degree misdemeanor, interfering with staff and students at an educational facility. The system says it’s doing what’s in the best interest of the child. But Tim’s therapist says handcuffing an 11 year old and putting him in a cell over something like this is “quite an overreaction” and does much more harm than good.