Arvada Police Arrest 11-Year-Old; City Sleeps Easier

This is a sad state of affairs. Apparently an 11-year-old boy in Colorado has been arrested – arrested! – for drawing a stick figure of himself with a gun and the words “teacher must die!” This is ridiculous on so many levels.

First, according to the story, this child has ADD and was instructed by his therapist to draw instead of act out in class. Regardless of what you think about ADD and the fact that an 11-year-old is in therapy for it, if the choice is between disrupting class and drawing quietly I know what my vote would be.

Second, apparently the child was throwing away the drawing when the teacher saw it. He was sent to the office, who were aware of his condition and rightly determined he was not a threat. They told his parents and sent him back to class. At this point, if the teacher had an issue with this procedure it was incumbent upon the teacher (an adult, ostensibly) to sit the child down and explain why that sort of drawing is bothersome. Are teachers really so spineless these days that they cannot confront a student and correct their behavior? Perhaps in this litigious culture, they would be afraid that the parents would sue them. As it turns out, legal action was inevitable.

Later that night, thinking all was well, the family received a knock on the door. It was the police; they had come to arrest the boy. They took him away in handcuffs and would not let his mother accompany him, drive him to the station or ride in the car with him. Needless to say, the boy was a bit traumatized. They took his mugshot, fingerprinted him and kept him in a cell for the booking process. Then they charged him with a misdemeanor. For a stick drawing.

This child has no legal troubles in his history, is in treatment for an acknowledged (if overblown) condition and was complying with the direction of his therapist. There are several failures here:

  1. When the teacher saw the drawing, she should have asked the child to stay after class and simply asked, “what is this about?” Get the child’s answer, let them know you are aware of them. Get him to talk about his problems. Teach them something useful about life. But instead the child was sent to the principal.
  2. It’s not clear what role the school office played in this debacle. Did they report it to the Arvada Police? At most, this child should have been given detention. Now, he’s being charged with a crime for something nearly every boy ever has done.
  3. The Arvada Police acted with callous disregard for the child and his family. This is the same Arvada Police who were rocked by a brutality scandal just last September. Gosh, guys, call me crazy but when you put 11-year-old boys in handcuffs you may have a systemic problem with overzealous officers. Just sayin’.
  4. I’m not going to blow this out of proportion, but when the police can do this to a child, they can find a reason to do it to you. This country’s laws are so very broad that some claim the average person commits three felonies a day. If they want you arrested, they don’t need much.

The story is on Drudge right now, and it should be hitting Twitter soon. Here’s hoping that this family recoups its financial losses (already in the thousands – for stick figures!) and the (violent, antagonistic, oppressive) Arvada Police take a page from the manual of common sense.


  1. bruce draken says:

    OK, according to “the story”, but you list no sources for “the story.”

    So far the only source seems to be a FOX News station in Denver. The principles are not identified and there is no official verification that this event even took place. But it is being circulated all over the outraged far right blogosphere which naturally takes the opportunity to castigate “liberals”. (Political affiliations of neither the principles involved, school officials, police nor local legislators are noted in the story. But we can all assume that the authors of any outrageous and absurd incident will be “liberal,” according to the penetrating wisdom of the far right, who simply know these things and don’t need facts to prove anything.

  2. NealDewing says:

    Hi. I think the “story” I referenced can be found using the thing called a “hyperlink” that’s in the first sentence. That’s what we have to go on. In reference to the reported events or “story” it is a local Fox station – not big ol’ cable Fox. But hey, if you doubt the veracity of a local news story you can take it up with Ms. Julie Hayden who wrote the article and appears in the video.

    I did not frame this in terms of liberal or conservative, I framed it in terms of common sense. If the facts are that the child was arrested for drawing a stick figure, then that is a gross overreaction by any standard…I hope.

    When I found the reference to a brutality scandal in the same police force, I naturally thought perhaps this is symptomatic of a larger problem.

    I’m sorry you’re upset enough about this to try to deny it even happened, but before you get pissy about right-left stuff I’d urge you to take a walk and remember the Internet is voluntary! You can walk away without losing face.

  3. W says:

    Kudos on pointing out the prior foibles of the Arvada force.

    Also kudos on having earned a full-fledged political troll!

  4. NealDewing says:

    I know! So Exciting!

  5. Arvada City says:

    Normally, you won’t find the Arvada police in the Denver metro local news. The Denver police are more apt to make the headlines. All has been pretty quite in Arvada with the police lately. Over-reaction? Maybe…But kids this age have done some disturbing things. Perhaps, people are a little bit on edge these days.

  6. NealDewing says:

    I’ll admit, I haven’t heard of the Arvada PD arresting little kids for drawings in the last few months. Thank goodness! I am sure my blog post isn’t negatively affecting Arvada Tourism.

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