By Steph Davidson
An eight-year-old Massachusetts boy was suspended from school and ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation after drawing a figure of Jesus Christ nailed to the cross.
The second-grader drew the crucifix after his teacher asked children to sketch something they associated with Christmas. But the boy’s father said he then got a call from the elementary school informing him that his son had created a violent drawing.
“When she told me he needed to be psychologically evaluated, I thought she was playing,” the boy’s father told the Taunton Daily Gazette.
The drawing in question shows Jesus on a cross with Xs in place of his eyes to symbolize death.
The man, who asked for his name not to be published to protect the child, said his son gets specialized reading and speech instruction at school, and has never shown any tendency toward violence.
“He’s never been suspended. He’s eight years old. They overreacted,” he said.
The child drew the picture shortly after taking a family trip to see the Christmas display at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, a Christian retreat site in Attleboro, Mass.
Toni Saunders, a non-profit educational consultant, said the boy’s father reached out to her for help after trying to have his son moved to another school because “he’s traumatized by everything that has happened.”
“I’ve had kids suspended for idiotic things before, but I’ve never had to deal with anything like this,” said Ms. Saunders.
Ms. Saunders said the boy was kicked out of Lowell L. Maxham School on Dec. 2 and not allowed back until Dec. 7, after he received a psychiatric evaluation. The evaluation found nothing to indicate that he posed a threat to himself or others.
“I didn’t understand why this was so important to them, why it violated the school code of violence in their handbook. It just didn’t make sense,” she said. “It was just the drawing, and I don’t know how that turned into violence.”
The school’s zero-tolerance for violence policy and a general lack of common sense are to to blame, Ms. Saunders said.
“It’s time that we shine a light on what we’re doing to our own children, and stop it, because our children’s imagination is being assaulted. It’s not right. I can’t imagine that this would’ve happened 20 years ago. It wouldn’t have. People would’ve patted him on the back and said, ‘Isn’t that wonderful.’”
Angela Smithson’s son Cullen was suspended from his Taunton school in June 2008 for drawing what his teacher considered to be a violent image. The teacher filed a criminal complaint against the 10-year-old boy over the picture, which shows him, a gun and a figure labelled as the teacher with a bullet wound. The district attorney’s office chose not to pursue the charges.
Ms. Smithson said it was horrible that no one tried to speak with the eight-year-old child and his father before they suspended him. She experienced the same problem when the teacher refused to speak with her regarding Cullen’s drawing.
“I have no idea why they would think that that’s a violent drawing. Even if I didn’t know what it was, and you know, I took a look at it, you can tell it’s Jesus on a crucifix ... there’s nothing wrong with that picture. Nothing should have happened. I really feel bad for this family,” Ms. Smithson said.
Phone calls to the school principal and superintendent were not returned.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Where is this stuff headed???
By Steph Davidson