An 11 year-old boy with ADD was arrested after he drew stick figures. Such was the recommendation of his therapist — draw instead of disrupt the class. He drew stick figures of himself with a gun, pointed at four other stick figures with the words “teacher must die.” He never threatened anyone, merely expressed a wish. A thought. As in the First Amendment.
Here’s the story in its entirety. I hope you’re sitting down.
An 11-year-old Arvada [Colorado] boy was arrested and hauled away in handcuffs for drawing stick figures in school – something his therapist told him to do.
His parents say they understand what he did was inappropriate, but are outraged by the way Arvada Police handled the case. The parents did not want their real names used.
They say “Tim” is being treated for Attention Deficit Disorder and his therapist told him to draw pictures when he got upset, rather than disrupt the class. So that’s what he did.
Last October, he drew stick figures of himself with a gun, pointed at four other stick figures with the words “teacher must die.”
He felt calmer and was throwing the picture away when the teacher saw it and sent him to the principal’s office.
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 school officials 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.
Arvada Police say because Monday was a holiday, they are not able to get hold of all the personnel and reports to make a response, but will be able to respond Tuesday. Tim is on probation and if he completes that successfully, the criminal charges will be dropped. But his parents say it has cost them thousands of dollars so far.
And if they had known that their son’s cooperation would be used as evidence against him, they would have hired a lawyer at the beginning and exercised his right to remain silent.
And this happens every day with alarming frequency.