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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. “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.”


    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.

  4. 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..

  5. @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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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