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"A fifth-grader was taken from Oldsmar Elementary School in handcuffs Wednesday after a teacher found drawings he had made of weapons"
June 6, 2001 2:25 PM   Subscribe

"A fifth-grader was taken from Oldsmar Elementary School in handcuffs Wednesday after a teacher found drawings he had made of weapons" When does too much become too little? That's to say too much paranoid nannying, too little common sense.
posted by MUD (40 comments total)

 
Can I slap some sense into the principal? Every boy at that age draws pictures of weapons. I used to draw cool guns and swords. I didn't think I was a threat.

The sad thing is the comment by the principal at the end of the story that says 'There are some things one should not say and some things that one should not draw.' Whoa!

Was this guy a voting official?
posted by Stretch at 2:32 PM on June 6, 2001


A perfect lesson to convey to children one hopes will grow up predisposed toward totalitarianism.
posted by luser at 2:34 PM on June 6, 2001


I...... I......

[hangs head in disgust and wonderment]
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:35 PM on June 6, 2001


were they realistic looking? or were they lasers or videogame style BFG2000's? Aye. Insanity. I'm going to make sure and draw a gun today and show it to my fellow employees.
posted by th3ph17 at 2:41 PM on June 6, 2001


The First Amendment doesn't apply, apparently, to fifth graders. Very nice.
posted by UncleFes at 2:51 PM on June 6, 2001


If the same rules that apply now would have been applied when I was a kid, I would have been expelled from school so many times and probably ultimately kicked out. It wasn't that I was making threats, I was just drawing things that I thought were interesting. Of course, later on when I went through hunter training and actually killed my first animal (a squirrel of all things), I was disgusted (mainly by myself) and gave it up forever.
posted by almostcool at 2:55 PM on June 6, 2001


i was just going to say, i used to draw cool gunfights and tanks in a little book i had when i was 8 or so. this is just some freakishly upsetting paranoia. i think the worst part of it really is that the paranoia of some teachers and students really just goes to show how badly we really don't understand what motivates our kids towards violence or not.

from a social point of view, it's hypocrisy to sell GI Joes and market all sorts of martial toys to boys, and then scold them for drawing a gun. of course who knows how this individual teacher feels, but all the same.
posted by moz at 2:55 PM on June 6, 2001


"The boy was handcuffed by campus police for his safety and not because the student was violent or out of control..."

i cannot think of a single situation where one's personal safety is increased by having one's hands cuffed. well, perhaps if one was standing next to the spinning, unscreened blades of a giant exhaust fan, and one was prone to muscle spasms...
posted by quonsar at 2:59 PM on June 6, 2001


I am thinking these drawings must have been something pretty horrific, not just standard action sequence stuff we all drew as children. It really seems we are mising some of the facts in this story--Bear in mind, the other children were alarmed enough to bring it to the attention of the faculty, so it must have been something pretty bad.

The response, however, was still ridiculous. Handcuffs? Merely scheduling an appointment with the school counseler would have probably been adequete.
posted by matthew at 3:12 PM on June 6, 2001


They've done a great job.

The experience of being booted out of a school and humiliated by being led away in handcuffs in front of your peers is an excellent way to make a kid feel like shit.

It's incidents like this that create mental problems. Bravo. I wouldn't be surprised to hear of this kid really shooting up a school in another 5 years time.
posted by wackybrit at 3:13 PM on June 6, 2001


Here's the web site for the school's district, apparently the school's web site is offline.
posted by silusGROK at 3:14 PM on June 6, 2001


Yep, the only vague, outside possibility of a reason for the situation being taken this seriously would be if the drawings were carefully labelled to show the boy concerned shooting and maiming his classmates. And even then... Try having a chat with him? He's only eleven, he's probably not beyond help yet.

But he said the boy probably won't return for the rest of the year and probably would be moved to another school.

Cos that'll help his self esteem, won't it? And it's also a great way to deal with a problem: "Gee, I can't be bothered sorting this one out. Maybe someone else will."
posted by MUD at 3:23 PM on June 6, 2001


What really gets me is the principal saying, "The children were in no danger at all."

Well thank goodness we have someone cracking down on instances that pose no threat whatsoever. That's the only way we can be truly safe.
posted by Mrmuhnrmuh at 3:28 PM on June 6, 2001


Maybe I don't want to have kids...

This completely out of proportion trend to broadbrush every facet of childhood using guidelines for an adult world is just... well... Oh, it's too wearying.
posted by m.polo at 3:28 PM on June 6, 2001


Would it be crass of me to send my card to the parents for the lawsuit? Of course, this was in Florida. We all know full well that their education system is completely fubar. I can't imagine why anyone with children stays there. Get out, run now, for the sake of the kids. Please!
posted by Dreama at 3:39 PM on June 6, 2001


Jeez. They probably would've taken me away in a straitjacket... Not only was I drawing pictures of guns at this age, I was drawing pictures of futuristic-looking spaceships and trying to learn enough physics to figure out how rocket engines worked! Bad that I would have been labeled as "imbalanced" and "violent", but I was also a "hopeless dreamer" and "missing the mission and purpose of my classes".

I'm really, really, really not going to have kids.
posted by SpecialK at 3:40 PM on June 6, 2001


Since we're talking about what we used to draw as kids, the focus of my 'violent' drawings was often Libya. What would they have done to me if I were a kid today? Deported me so I could be tried under Islamic law in Libya? Lighten up people.
posted by crustbuster at 3:42 PM on June 6, 2001


Why is Nancy Zambito, a director for the school district, talking about threats? For those MeFi readers who skimmed the article, she says, "It is not unusual for students in elementary and middle schools to make threats" She also mentions, "assess[ing] the threat," and punishments according to the "severity of the threat".

All the child did was draw weapons; she implies he threatened other students. I don't see the implicit threat in drawing weapons. She makes the situation seems more drastic than it really is.

I agree with quonsar--the handcuffs are excessive. An unarmed 11 year-old, escorted by police, poses no threat to himself or his classmates. The handcuffs are humiliating, and could only add to his perceived psychological problems.

The principal said, "All your children's safety are belong to us."
posted by ktheory at 3:55 PM on June 6, 2001


crustbuster, the Army probably would have signed you up!

obscure reference #1: Get the Buggers, Ender! It's just a game!

obscure reference #2: "I started jumpin up and down yellin 'Kill! Kill! Kill!"......and the sergeant came over, pinned a medal on me, said 'You're our boy!'"

God knows what they would have done to this kid if he had a *gasp* rubber band gun?!

yours sincerely,

The Last Guy
posted by Kafkaesque at 3:59 PM on June 6, 2001


Perhaps a lawsuit could be brough against the school on the grounds that people send generally their children to a school to be educated, but the people running this school are clearly not competent to educate anyone.
posted by kindall at 4:00 PM on June 6, 2001


At the age of 8 we were instructed to draw something from that year's hottest movie, StarWars. I hadn't seen it yet, nor had I seen many pictures. So I took the title and ran with it, I created a scene of wanton destruction, bombs, explosions, creatures and spaceships and humanoids all being raygunned, lightsabered, and blown to bits. At this school I would have been expelled.

It turned out to be nothing like Star Wars and some other kid's drawing of Vadar was agreed on to be the best. I finally saw the movie in the early 80's when it was re-released to the theaters. But my buddy had the picture story book so i wasn't too surprised by the movie.
posted by mutagen at 4:08 PM on June 6, 2001


hmm.. maybe if I start now, I'll be a citizen by the time I'm ready to have kids...
posted by Vetinari at 4:12 PM on June 6, 2001


From the district web site: SCHOOL'S OUT -- The last day of school is Wednesday, June 6.

I imagine the kid will be out for the rest of the year. weird.
posted by jpoulos at 5:03 PM on June 6, 2001


Kafkaesque: I can't beleive that I've read enough sci-fi/near future fiction to get both of those. Oye.
posted by SpecialK at 5:06 PM on June 6, 2001


::nods to specialk::

i'm in worse shape than you though... i'm a young'un and i still got those.
posted by lotsofno at 5:13 PM on June 6, 2001


Mind you, jpoulos, the story is from May 11, putting the incident itself at May 9. That means the kid gets nearly a month off school, which makes me wonder if he didn't just fancy an extra-long holiday. Wish I'd thought of that when I was at school. Of course, those damn liberal pansies that tought me would probably have done something ridiculous like praising my artistic ability and asking me to draw a bunny rabbit next time. Idiots.
posted by MUD at 5:20 PM on June 6, 2001


The classmates who turned in the student after seeing his drawings should be commended because that was the right thing to do, Schmitt said.

...no can... have no... no rational response possible.
posted by dchase at 5:29 PM on June 6, 2001


Pushy kid
posted by Postroad at 5:51 PM on June 6, 2001


Man, all I did in the 10th grade was draw stick figure battles. I got a D in English because I neglected my work so much.

But I was never led away in handcuffs.
posted by solistrato at 7:25 PM on June 6, 2001


I passed by this thread several times. Zero tolerance is one of those "button-pushing" topics for me.

In the interest of brevity, the stuff happens everyday now. A good place for sources of news like this is here. It you want to get pissed off, you might as well have a daily source of it. It got me pissed at one point and I spewed hate for hours. What a mess! My apartment is already messy enough.

After all, it doesn't take much at all to get arrested in school. I am sure the picture was no more disturbing then this one.

So what can we do? Certainly, not run from state to state. It's a national problem. We have managed to make teaching at the lower levels something only masochists would do. Why I remember the old days of sadistic teachers. People you loved to hate. At least when they hit you over the head with a leather-bound edition of Shakespeare some literature rubbed off on you.

WE don't need no Education! Be careful what you wish for brother!
posted by john at 7:26 PM on June 6, 2001


this is just ridiculous. when my brother was a kid there were two things he was interested in - drawing and army/fighting type stuff.

so when he would draw a lot of his drawings were of big muscley guys in army gear with guns, or Conan style with huge swords. his still draws that kind of stuff now in his comics and other art he does, but he hasnt turned into a crazed killer.

in fact when he was at school his teachers would encourage his interest in those things, and used his interest in things like that to help him with his reading - which he had a lot of trouble with.

in the article where they say that they put on the handcuffs for the kids safety and "That's normal procedure in a situation like this," - for christs sake why?

dont you think putting handcuffs on him is gonna scare the shit out of him? jesus! these schools are just over reacting!!! cant you just send the kid to the principals office, call the parents, get in the counsellor and discuss it?

i remember the sort of stuff my brother used to draw...and still does now come to think of it. even if it was really graphic and depicting violence against people in the school it doesnt mean he's gonna freak out and shoot people. they could have just spoken to him about what he drew and then kept a careful eye on him for a while.
posted by endorwitch at 7:52 PM on June 6, 2001


Pencil and paper don't kill people; artists kill people!
posted by harmful at 8:04 PM on June 6, 2001


I'm glad I got that school thing out of the way long ago.

I feel sorry for today's students, they have to deal with both left-wing and right-wing facists.

Sure, they were around back in the day, but they were not an issue like they are now.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 8:15 PM on June 6, 2001


Boris would be in a lot of trouble in Florida. We got weapons, muscle men and partially clothed women.
posted by bjgeiger at 8:32 PM on June 6, 2001


June 5, 2001: The day childhood was forever lost in America. "... a day that will live in infamy..."

This is a truly outrageous. I agree with most of the outrage against the school authorities, and I also feel very sorry for the kid. Big Brother... George Orwell ... 1984 ... art does imitate life.

Sad, so sad.
posted by Rastafari at 8:38 PM on June 6, 2001


If I had only a month left of the school year anyway, I'd totally go for it. I'd draw communist logos and pictures of Karl Marx crushing USA with his hand and holding a red flag in the other and when they'd carry me away in handcuffs because of my political statements I'd raise my fist and shout something like 'the revolution begins here!' or 'proletarians of all countries unite!' or something like that. Not that I'm a communist at all, but that would totally kick ass I think. (*)
posted by Hjorth at 1:45 AM on June 7, 2001


The human race is violent by nature, as soon as we recognise and face this rather than locking it up in and hypocritically sneering at it, the better! I have'nt got the solution for world peace but knee jerking an eleven year old is not even the smallest part of the iceberg.
posted by kramer_101 at 5:10 AM on June 7, 2001


How long before we see the smart kids working the system? Is the bully bothering you? Plant some pictures of guns in his (see-through mesh, of course!) backpack, report him to the principal, and bye-bye bully.
posted by darukaru at 7:43 AM on June 7, 2001


This is so infuriating to me that I just want to spit!

Sadly, because my son is highly creative and artistic, I've spoken to him on numerous occaisions about being careful of what drawings and writing he does at or takes to school.

He loves to draw out his own versions of action video games and favorite anime. While not my cup of tea, they are niether psychologically troubling nor "sick". They reflect his interests and creativity, and I encourage his work.

I know my son, but I would not trust any of his teachers or school officials to judge his work or draw conclusions about his psyche because of what he draws or writes. The administrators are only "protecting" themselves, not protecting or helping their students.

It's sad beyond belief to me that I have to teach him not to trust teachers whom he should feel he can be open with.
posted by ilanah at 11:40 AM on June 7, 2001


darukaru is sort of getting at what I was thinking. So some other kids reported him. Maybe they were genuinely disturbed, maybe they just didn't like the kid...
posted by dagnyscott at 11:44 AM on June 7, 2001


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