For people who have problems with children, I have an easy solution for you: lock all the little bastards up in jail until they get 18. Then you won’t have a problem anymore.
Teachers, parents, neighbours, anybody… if you know a child that any kind of problem, no matter how large or small, just put him in jail and everything should work itself out. Or at least, that is what the American justice systems thinks should be done.
I just finished watching a news story on CNN about an 11 year old boy who drew a disturbing picture in school. The boy drew stick figures of himself shooting three teachers. Yes, I know this is alarming. With the rate of school shootings these days, this is not something we should sleep on. But let me give you further details. The boy was in a counseling session with a licensed therapist. The therapist asked him to draw out his emotions instead of acting them out in class. The boy drew the picture as requested. The therapist saw the picture and was properly alarmed by it. She told the teachers and the boy’s parents about the drawings, as she should have done. After further counseling, she decided the boy was not an immediate danger to his classroom. After his counseling session, he went back to class. He had no problems. He went home.
Later that night, the police arrived at his house and arrested him. They put him in handcuffs and put him in back of a squad car. His mother requested that she be allowed to drive him to the police station. She was told no. She requested to be present during the booking process, in which he was fingerprinted, had his photo taken and put into a detention cell. She was told no.
The boy was charged with a misdemeanor, interfering with school officials (or something to that effect). At first, even though the school was aware of the drawings from the very beginning, the school was not going to press charges. But after speaking with the police, they decided they would go ahead and press charges.
Look, I am not saying that pictures of a kid shooting up his teachers is not serious. It is serious. It needs to be addressed. His counseling should be ramped up. His parents should be notified (which they were). His teachers need to be on watch (which they were informed). If the boy is determined to be a real threat, he needs to be removed from school. After speaking with the boy when he drew the pictures the counselor decided he was not a threat. So why was he arrested?
How is arresting an 11 year old child who has no prior criminal or behavioural issues helping him? Kids do not draw disturbing pictures for no reason. Sometimes the kid truly is crazy and has violence on his mind. Sometimes the kid is drawing these things to bring attention to something else. The kid wants to shoot his teachers. Why? Is a teacher abusing him? Or is a teacher just being a little hard on him? Is some other authority figure abusing him? Is he being bullied? What is his home life like? Are his parents real parents, or are they absent, negligent or abusive? Did the boy have a habit of acting up in class? Has he made threats before? Did he draw other crazy pictures? Does he say or do mean things to other kids or animals? Did they even assess all of this?
I am not sure arresting him is going to help him. Let’s say he really is crazy and he likes doing shit like this because it amuses him. Maybe arresting him will really push him over the edge. Or what if this pointing to a more serious problem, like abuse? How is arresting him going to address that?
The boy is seeing a school counselor right now. After a drawing like that, he may need to see a different type of therapist. Maybe he has some kind of chemical imbalance and may need to be medicated. Did anybody drop by and do an investigation of his home? Maybe his home is the type of environment that breeds violence. Did anybody see if the boy has real access to weapons? I mean, there’s so many other things they could have done before arresting.
A lot of people are saying, “Oh, if you don’t do anything, you’ll be sorry when he follows up on his threats.” I agree. I’m not saying post the damn drawing up on the fridge. I’m saying take real action. He’s 11. There is a reason he drew this picture. Get to the root of the problem. If you find out the boy has an arsenal stashed away under his bed, okay, yeah arrest his little ass.
But I think police activity makes situations even worse. It makes criminals out of kids who probably just need some mental help. I know that school shootings and violent children is very serious. I am not making light of that at all, but you can’t kill a mosquito with a shotgun. Overreacting to every little thing is not the answer. This kid will have a record that may impede him from succeeding. Schools may not want to accept him if they find out he has this type of charge on his record. That is setting him for failure instead of getting him the help that he needs.