Colorado Boy Arrested For Inappropriate Stick Drawing

We have yet another example of mindless school policies leading to an equally mindless arrest. An eleven-year-old Arvada Colorado boy was arrested for drawing an inappropriate stick figure — even though his therapist had told him to draw such pictures as a way to managing his emotions.

I have long criticized zero tolerance policies that have led to suspensions and arrests of children (here and here and here and here). Here is a prior column on the subject (and here).

Tim was being treated for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and was specifically instructed by his therapist to draw pictures when he got upset. That is what he did in this case — drawing figures of himself with a gun, pointed at four other stick figures with the words “teacher must die.” He was throwing away the paper when the teacher asked to see it and the police were called.

One would have hoped that the police would immediately suggest that his parents be called and note that this was not a police problem. Instead, they arrested an eleven-year-old boy for a stick figure.

The boy was booked, fingerprinted, forced to take a mugshot and then thrown into a cell. His parents state that officers told him that he would never be able to go home again.

All this occurred despite the fact that the police report acknowledged that “Tim” has never been in legal trouble. The report also states that Tim told them that he drew the picture at the suggestion of this therapist and “would never hurt teachers or anyone.” What is really astonishing is that the school officials initially did not want to press charges but, after thinking about it, decided later that day to criminally charge the boy.

He has been charged with a third degree misdemeanor, interfering with staff and students at an educational facility.

Once again, I fail to see why this country is not more upset over the steady criminalization of every aspect of our society, including making our children into criminal miscreants over matters that were once the subject of simple parent-teacher discussions. No one appears to want to exercise a modicum of judgment or sense in such matters. Even when charges are dropped, no one is ever disciplined for the such acts of blind, thoughtless conduct.

Source: KDVR

Jonathan Turley

49 thoughts on “Colorado Boy Arrested For Inappropriate Stick Drawing

  1. Yikes. We can’t get the Department of Justice to prosecute people who have admitted to toture and here a boy is arrested for drawing stick figures! The world is turned upside down.

  2. “Once again, I fail to see why this country is not more upset over the steady criminalization of every aspect of our society”

    They came for the boys drawing stickfigures and I said nothing, because I used water colors.

  3. What this kid needed was a therapy appointment. What he got was a heavy dose of unwarranted fear and a *reason* to want to pull a gun! Does ANYONE think any more about what is best for the individual child? I guess that lack is what “zero tolerance” is all about.

  4. Buddha,

    Actually, aside from being a mediocre wood carver, I have no artistic talent. Since by the time I’d get done carving a figure of me shooting a teacher I’d probably have finished the class, I figured the line about watercolors worked better.

  5. Maybe it’s time to list the names and locations of all the prosecution’s “team” that allowed such conduct by the police, as well as each of the police officers involved in a true search for justice and hope that citizens living in the area “correct“ this obvious abuse of their authority. This action by the prosecution may very well bankrupt the city with the anticipated lawsuits originating from this abuse case.

  6. Marty, the kid IS in therapy. In fact, the drawings were an assignment by his psychiatrist. Unlike some who have acted out, this is a kid who was not falling through the cracks in the mental health system.

    There are some things that make you want to throw up a bit in your throat. This is one of them. Best interest of the child my a$$. This is child abuse of the first order. If he did not have mental health issues before, he does now.

  7. He might at some point decide that the difference between sublimation and acting out isn’t worth the effort; the school/police have just used negatively reinforced his attempts to remain non-violent.

  8. “If he did not have mental health issues before, he does now.”
    Otteray Scribe 1, February 22, 2011 at 2:35 pm
    ————————————–

    but these things have been going on for a long time…people haven’t noticed the traumatization of the populace before?

    c’mon….does it really take the abuse of an 11 y.o. to wake people up to what is going on? ….for over a decade now and then some???? The silence of the people is not fear…it is disgust.

  9. Woosty: of course this kind of thing has been going on for a long time. It is just that we depend on news reports to bring them to light. Unfortunately, all too many people may be ashamed or embarrassed that their kid was arrested and do not call the local TV station. Look at the long history of abuse by Judge Mark Ciavarella in PA who was running his scam by destroying kids. The crime is compounded by the length of time it took to bring this monster to justice. We have to ask what is out there that we do not know about because no one has blown the whistle. If this does not peg the outrage meter, nothing will.

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/mark-ciavarella-pa-juvenile-court-judge-convicted-alleged/story?id=12965182

  10. Why aren’t we prosecuting the real criminals?

    Like the guy who drinks all but the last drop of milk and puts the container back in the fridge.

  11. rafflaw and Otteray Scribe-

    You got this one exactly right. What kind of heartless sub-human locks an 11 year old boy in a jail cell and tells him he will never be able to go home. The wrong person was charged with a crime.

  12. As mild as many here think I am,if that had happened to one of my kids, I would probably have wound up in jail for scaring the hell out of the school officials and or telling off the police. How dare they do this! The crazies have come out of the woodwork in our country today and it is magnified by the fact that the media treats crap like this even handedly.

  13. HenMan: Thanks, I agree. I have been thinking about this all day since I first saw the story early this morning.

    Upon reflection, I think if I were those parents, I would be making the school staff and law enforcement officials involved in this travesty my hobby for the foreseeable future. I suppose they will hide behind a veil of sovereign immunity, but there are some approaches that pierce that veil. Here’s for good luck to the parents and their attorney on making this child whole again.

  14. It always starts with the stick drawings. Before you know it they are developing the skills to draw more and more horrible things. Like malformed santa’s with eight fingers then moving to bad self portraits. If we don’t round up these miscreants now they move into more dangerous things. Like Cubism.

  15. Zero tolerance policies have been widely adopted because we no longer trust the ability of persons in authority to exercise reasonable discretion.

  16. Wow Gyges….. I think the man outta be a saint…..

    The story says the following: This shit is fucked up….

  17. This is ridiculous. They let way too much slide in school systems, but with this, they went way overboard. Kids today have little respect for adults. However, adults bring it on themself because they don’t handle the children correctly. Too many schools use fear/mind tactics.

  18. Gyges and AY-

    Interesting stuff from George Orwell. I particularly love the word, “KULTURBOLSCHEVISMUS”. I think we’re up to our necks in kulturbolschevismus today,not to mention politischebolschevismus.
    And I use the two words in their bomb-throwing connotation.

    Think U.S. House of Representatives and Governor of Wisconsin.

    And teachers and cops who terrorize little boys.

  19. There is another issue here that no one has addressed. The stick figures and the phrase “teacher must die” are protected by the First Amendment. The only way that they would not be is if they constituted a threat, but they didn’t here, because the boy was throwing away the paper without having shown it to anybody. This is not to say that, if the boy had not been in therapy, the paper might not be considered a reason to get him therapy. But to punish him for the drawing or the words is to violate the highest law of the land — the Constitution. It is the adults who violated the law in this case. And, based on the facts given above, the charge of “interfering with staff and students at an educational facility” is a flat-out lie, so the adults are guilty of his false arrest and imprisonment.

  20. Which is why I find the Adversarial Principle to be the deepest of all possible causes for what may usefully be thought of as “The Evil One.”

  21. The Adversarial Principle is the alternative to tyranny. The tyranny of the school officials and cops would have been avoided if they had applied a bit of adversarial process to find out the facts first instead of reacting out of knee-jerk instinct. Now they are going to get a healthy dose of the adversarial process in the inevitable lawsuits the parents will file against both the school and the police for their gross overreaction, lack of critical examination of the facts before acting, and general bad judgment. The difference this time is a process – due process – will be followed and proper discovery had which will be presented to an impartial judge to decide upon the merits and not upon knee-jerk instinct.

  22. Pardon,

    “The difference this time is a process – due process – will be followed and proper discovery had which will be presented to an impartial judge to decide upon the merits and not upon knee-jerk instinct and narrow minded self-interest of the parties responsible for those unjustly punishing this boy.

  23. RE: Buddha Is Laughing, February 22, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    The Adversarial Principle is the alternative to tyranny.

    ################################

    Sorry, BiL, your implacable sincerity is your greatest liability, as best I can yet discern.

    The Adversarial Principle is the only tyranny, and is such a tyranny as to adversarially deny its inextricable tyrannical deception as to its being tyrannical, apparently with such stunning effectiveness as to have totally fooled you about itself and your belief in it.

    Self-reference may have seemingly paradoxical characteristics.

    The function of the Adversarial Principle is to generate adversarial phenomena, including beliefs adversarial to the truth of the nature of the Adversarial Principle itself.

    As I observe that one synonym for the “Adversarial Principle” is the “Boogeyman,” it appears to me that the children in Sturgeon Bay who told me that the “Boogeyman” would get me were wrong about me and right about you.

    From what you write as I can fathom it, I guess the Boogeyman really got you but good (but good is a play on words as it really means, “terribly”).

    Deception deceives those it deceives.

    The Adversarial Principle is adverse to itself and all that it captures.

    Your comments about my work really do inform me as to why James O. Ebbeson thought it was good to draft affidavits containing the most dastardly lies about me that ever came my way before you surpassed Ebbeson’s deceptive dishonesty accordingly as I find evidenced in your falsehood-grounded comments about my work.

    Some people really do not grasp what the real nature of evil is, for evil can capture the best of people with perfect ease, else evil would not be evil.

  24. “The function of the Adversarial Principle is to generate adversarial phenomena, including beliefs adversarial to the truth of the nature of the Adversarial Principle itself.”

    No. The function of the adversarial principle as it applies law is to moderate and adjudicate situations via an impartial party that uses rules and discovery of evidence to reach an equitable and just decision. Adversity in toto is a naturally occurring phenomena that arises as a natural consequence of human interaction and interaction with the environment. Someone makes a choice to do somebody wrong or is negligent in someway and that puts them consequently adverse to the party injured by their action or inaction.

    Make up definitions all you like.

    You’re still wrong and propagating a Big Lie, troll.

    Come on. Now tell us how the adversarial principle is responsible for child abuse again. That never ceases to be funny.

  25. The only effective response to outrages like this is for people to get into the streets and march on the police department, the mayor’s office and the school board. Politicians don’t much fear lawsuits; the judgments, if any, are usually paid with tax dollars. (Note the irony: when people sue the government, they’re kind of suing themselves – or their fellow citizens, most of whom did not perpetrate the outrage.)

    Sadly, most people are too cowed or too busy just getting by to try to mobilize their friends and neighbors to take mass action. I hope this family is different.

    And by the way, I strongly believe they should not sue as a first resort. The boy wasn’t physically injured; an apology from the grown-ups who wronged him will do him much more good emotionally than a lawsuit that might consume the rest of his childhood.

  26. RE: Buddha Is Laughing, February 23, 2011 at 12:06 am

    Now tell us how the adversarial principle is responsible for child abuse again.

    #############################

    I tell those who have eyes to see and I tell those who have ears to hear, doing so simply through living my life in a world in which I have been treated with unspeakably dastardly abuse by people who I am coming to understand profoundly terribly share your view of reality and your form of hatred for such of truth as I am able to recognize.

  27. Bruce,

    “And by the way, I strongly believe they should not sue as a first resort. The boy wasn’t physically injured; an apology from the grown-ups who wronged him will do him much more good emotionally than a lawsuit that might consume the rest of his childhood.”

    Why yes it very well might in addition to being the right thing to do. Will they – the adults – do it is another matter altogether. However, the damage may be psychological and already done. Filing suit should always be the last resort, but should the psychological damage prove persistent then damages could at least help the family offset the costs of future treatment.

  28. Buddha,
    many times the only way you can get these so-called adults to apologize is to serve them with papers. I hope they don’t have to, but this kid could be damaged by the experience.

  29. Everyone in this story should be sent back to elementary…

    Luckily though, the boy will soon be able to carry the real thing to school. Oh, the sanity.

  30. Larimer County Colorado just settled with Tim Masters for a wrongful murder conviction. The “evidence” was drawings similar to what you described. He was like 15 or 16 and she was raped and murdered nearby. Later evidence points to a mentally ill surgeon but he was not pursued as a serious suspect once the police found Masters’ drawings.

  31. RE: BelgianBrain, February 23, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Everyone in this story should be sent back to elementary…

    Luckily though, the boy will soon be able to carry the real thing to school. Oh, the sanity.

    ###################################

    Methinks vastly too much damage has happened before elementary school.

    Methinks too much damage may have happened within an hour after birth.

    Perhaps we need to do a do over?

    A do over, starting before the beginning of the beginning of the beginning?

    I hope not!

  32. @BelgianBrain

    Yes, I wait in anticipation for the day when every citizen is free to carry his gun with him to school, where all teachers and administration are also armed to the teeth. Zero tolerance can truly be used to “zero out” any unwanted behaviors.

    Should there be a minimum age to carry? Gosh, as long as they can lift it ought to be a satisfactory measure. You never know when or where Red Dawn may happen; best to be prepared.

  33. Did the school and police over react with this kid? Maybe they did.
    But let me ask all of you a couple of questions. Who would you have blamed if this child had brought a gun to school and shot and killed a teacher or a student? It has happened all over our country.
    Since we in this country are so quick to blame everything on someone else but ourselfs, Who would be at fault in this kids life; his parents maybe? Or lets see, how about the school for turning him in?
    Think about it for a second, it’s scary for everyone in this country to think about..

  34. “Who would you have blamed if this child had brought a gun to school and shot and killed a teacher or a student? It has happened all over our country.”

    Lee,

    Yes it has happened, but the fact that these occurences were isolated, over publicized incidents, does not mean that extremist reaction to them, should fill us with such fear, that we should strongly overreact. If you think that isolated instance of students out of control characterizes America today, then you lack the historical perspective to judge objectively.

    Back in the early 50’s, my brother attended a high school that had daily riots requiring police, fought with street gangs, had friends who wer heroin addicts and generally raised hell. We were basically a lower middle class family living in a middle class neighborhood. My father experienced similar problems growing up and so did I while during my teen years I lived in an affluent suburb and went to a high School in one of the best school districts, yet was in fistfights on an almost daily basis.

    Our media news today thrives on stories that are meant to fill us with fear, when they aren’t busy covering celebrity breakdowns. By over-reacting to this over-hyped fear, we put our constitution and personal freedom injeopardy, with solutions that ignore root causes.

  35. Everyone wants to say the police over-reacted, but I representative a group of citizens who’ve lost family members to stick person violence, and we think the police acted appropriately.

  36. All the people involved in the arrest and prosecution of this boy needs 90 days in jail immediately and to be barred from that specific job they had for life, imo.

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