A ten year old Virginia boy who was arrested earlier this month for taking a plastic toy gun to school is facing a potentially permanent criminal record over the incident.
The boy, who remains unnamed by the media, hit headlines after Douglas MacArthur Elementary School officials searched his bag and found an orange tipped plastic toy gun, following complaints from parents who said their children had seen the boy playing with the fake firearm on the school bus.
Instead of exercising common sense, the school officials called the police, and the boy was taken into custody.
The next day he was fingerprinted, photographed, and questioned in a small courtroom, according to his mother Nakicha Gilbert, who spoke with The Washington Post recently.
Gilbert told reporters that she felt people were left with the impression that her son had “a real gun in there and he was waving it around and ready to kill the whole school.”
“It was a toy,” Gilbert said. “A toy,” adding that the boy also had no idea he had done anything wrong.
She says that her son, who has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, was forced to answer questions about Miranda rights, and has now been issued a probation officer and a second court date to face criminal charges.
“This is how kids get caught up in the system,” the mother said.
A local disadvantaged students association has been outspoken on the case. Tina Hone, founder of the Coalition of The Silence, said “This is such an over-the-top reaction.”
“How can you go from a toy gun to a criminal charge and a probation officer?” Hone asked.
Even the parent who made the initial complaint to the school about the “gun”, says that the case has been taken too far. “It’s such a bad handling of the situation, it was ridiculous,” Rebecca Edwards said.
In addition to being arrested and charged, the boy was suspended for 6 days with a recommendation for expulsion. He now attends a different school.
Douglas MacArthur School officials say they are following procedure, as well as state laws.
Although this seems to be one of the most extreme cases of children being disciplined over toy guns and gun gestures, it is far from isolated. As we have seen over the past few weeks, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, it is now a daily occurrence.
Ealier this month, a student in Florence, Arizona was suspended because he had a picture of a gun on his computer.
At the beginning of the month, it was reported that a six-year-old kindergartner in South Carolina was suspended for taking a small transparent plastic toy gun to school for a show and tell.
A day before that incident we reported on the five-year-old in Massachusetts who faced suspension for building a small toy gun out of lego bricks and play-shooting his classmates.
We also reported on an incident that erupted when a discussion between two children about a toy nerf gun caused a lockdown and a massive armed police response at two elementary schools in the Bronx.
In another incident, a Long Island high school was also placed on lock down for 6 hours in response to a student carrying a toy nerf gun.
In yet another recent incident, a five-year-old girl was suspended after a three hour grilling, and described as a “terroristic threat” when she brought a pink bubble gun to school.
A South Philadelphia elementary student was searched in front of classmates and threatened with arrest after she mistakenly brought a “paper gun” to school.
A 6-year-old boy was suspended from his elementary school in Maryland for making a gun gesture with his hand and saying “pow”.
Days after that incident, another two 6-year-olds in Maryland were suspended for pointing their fingers into gun shapes while playing “cops and robbers” with each other.
In Oklahoma, a five-year-old boy was also recently suspended for making a gun gesture with his hand.
And finally, a 13-year-old Middle School seventh grade student in Pennsylvania was also suspended for the same hand gesture.