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Doodles Lead to New Jersey Student’s Arrest

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Warshaw Law Firm, advocating for the educational rights of special needs children, is dedicated to protecting the rights of children with disabilities and children who are the victims of or accused of bullying, and assisting families in crisis through mediation and collaborative divorce.

When a 16-year-old New Jersey boy doodled in his notebook on Tuesday, December 18, he probably didn’t expect to be arrested by the end of the day. However, when school officials saw the sketches, which they state appeared to be of weapons, and the boy “demonstrated behavior that caused them to be concerned,” the police were called.

A subsequent search of the boy’s home led to his arrest because they found several electronic parts and chemicals. He was charged with the possession of an explosive device and put in juvenile detention.

The details on what was precisely in the drawings are sketchy, as are the details on the behavior that caused concern. The school claims the drawings were of weapons, but the boy’s mother told various press outlets that, “He drew a glove with flames coming out of it.” If true, then the drawing wouldn’t be out of place in the notebook of any teenager who loves comic books.

At no point in time did the boy threaten the school, school officials, or his classmates. He cooperated fully with authorities, and a search of the school itself found nothing dangerous. The boy’s mother describes him as a good boy and frequent volunteer with a passion for disassembling old things and reassembling them. School district superintendent Steve Ciccariello stated that he would not expect violent behavior from the student. Further, Galloway Township Police Chief Pat Moran recognized that “There was no indication he was making a bomb, or using a bomb or detonating a bomb.” Despite all this, the boy was arrested — all because he doodled in his notebook.

This holiday season, The Will & Ann Eisner Family Foundation is encouraging everyone who believes in the CBLDF’s important work protecting the freedom to read comics to become a member or give a gift membership in the organization. When you do, they will contribute $10 for each new membership and $5 for every renewing membership made from now until December 31, so join today!

Betsy Gomez is the Web Editor for CBLDF.