It makes sense that police, parents, teachers, and pretty much everyone would be extra vigilant after the horrific elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. But in Galloway Township, New Jersey, a high school student was arrested after simply drawing pictures of “what appeared to be weapons” in his notebook.
A teacher of the unidentified 16-year-old noticed his drawings in class and alerted school officials, who called the police. The cops took the boy out of school and then searched his home, where they found, according to CBS local news, “several electronic parts and several types of chemicals that when mixed together, could cause an explosion” — a description so vague and obfuscatory it would make Orwell shudder. And based on this, they charged the teenager with possession of a weapon, an explosive device.
The explosive device would have to make itself, mind you, because, in the police chief’s words, “There was no indication he was making a bomb, or using a bomb or detonating a bomb,” and the boy didn’t issue any threats.
“He takes the parts and he builds things with them,” the teenager’s mom told Fox. “Good things.” She added that the drawing that started the whole incident was actually a glove with flames coming out of it — which, quite honestly, sounds like standard fantasy or superhero fodder and makes the reaction seem all the more disproportionate. Schools and police obviously need to take precautions and do everything in their power to prevent more Newtowns or Columbines. But to arrest and charge a teenager based on a doodle and an unreleased list of items in his parents’ house sounds more like a troubling abuse of power than preparedness.