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. dallysdad-

    And look what happened to little Salvador Dali.

    (Sorry, but sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying.)

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. eniobob: “What is going on?????”

    I feel like that more and more with every passing day…

  8. 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.

  9. “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.

  10. 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.

  11. OS,
    I am glad that someone else labeled this as child abuse. I agree completely. This abuse will mark this child for a long time.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. “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.


  17. 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.

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