4-Year-Old's Drawing Leads to Dad's Arrest

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crazyonsOne day last week at school Jessie Sansone's 4-year-old daughter drew a picture of a man with a gun. The teacher didn't like it, so she called Family and Social Services. If you think that's an outrageous overreaction, just wait.

According to the Calgary Herald, when Jessie went to pick up his daughter and his other children at the end of the day, he was handcuffed, arrested, and strip searched, as they looked for this gun. They did actually find one after they went and searched the family's home in Ontario ... only it turned out to be a toy. Yes, the only gun in the entire house was a toy gun.


It's outrageous on so many fronts, the first of which is that it was a complete violation of civil liberties even if the gun had been real. It's not illegal to have a gun in one's home. Maybe her dad is a hunter; maybe it's for protection and licensed. She didn't draw anyone shooting someone dead or committing another crime; she just drew a man with a gun. According to the Toronto Sun, the girl even told authorities it depicted her dad "getting the bad guys and monsters."

As I read various reports about the incident, I kept waiting for there to be more to this story, but nope -- it was all about this one drawing. For that, this man was treated like a criminal, and his pregnant wife and four children were dragged into the whole mess as well, as they had to go to the station for questioning. How incredibly confusing for those children.

It's outrageous that the school and social workers were so quick to involve police. How about calling in the parents, voicing concern, and hearing what they had to say first? My son has drawn a lot of crazy things in his school days, and we certainly don't have rocket launchers or nunchucks lying about anywhere but his imagination. If parents can arrested for what their children draw, we all should be scared.

And what a way to encourage creativity and a passion for self expression in preschoolers: arrest their parents if you don't like what they draw. The 4-year-old's words to her father after he was released were heartbreaking, "Daddy, are you mad at me?"

Yes, protecting our children must be our first priority, but this is just an abuse of power. It serves as a frightening example of over-protection that certainly did much more harm than good.

Do you find this father's arrest outrageous? What things have your children drawn that authorities might question?

Image via albastrica mititica/Flickr

in the news, toddler development, nursery school, learning


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Tawne... Tawneekitn

The school should not have called social services.  If they had bothered TALKING to the family, I am sure that they would have been able to clear everything up.  People always jumping to act in a simple thing like this, but real signs of abuse/neglect it seems like they just get overlooked.  My son is now in high school and he has drawn things like guillotines, knives, explosions, fires, etc --as well as 'normal things' since he was in Kindergarten.  I am glad that the teachers here actually talked to me, rather than calling social services.  I don't know what lawyers are like in Canada, but here the parents would have already been contacted about suing the school!

Theresa Weous

My son draws ninjas that decapitate other ninjas and his teacher had spoken to me about it at a parent teacher conference and I thanked her for telling me that but I have 100's of pictures like that along with drawings of 100's of different kind of guns. I told her that I would rather he draw these realistic items instead of shooting or killing anyone. And I did speak to my son about drawing in class when he should have been doing his work, so now when he draws his pictures he does it at home and like his sister he has to show me every picture that he drew. I know that teachers are mandatory reporters but if that child did draw the man shooting the gun at anyone, she overstepped her bounds. She unintentionally hurt that entire family and I am sure that she has been through the wringer with her boss and the family. She should have gone to the Principal of the school and asked his advice on how to handle this.

Dave Casey

Sounds to me like a municipality that needs to have its coffers lightened by a few million dollars.

Douglas F. Baruth

Reminds me of the time my daughter 5 at the time sowed me a picture of a stick figure pointing a gun at another stick figure with its arms up. made me so proud as i was showing it off at work, a co worker asked," is that pee on the ground?" and sure enough if u look closely, the one being held up had a puddle underneath them. such a proud parent i was but i also did warn her not to do it again to do something like this. such a sad society we live in.

Kristina Elizabeth Driver

I just met a little 2 year old with severe burns on his arms and hands. as a spector we knew she lied, that the injuries are likely to be intentional. but children's services never got involved. now a kid draws a picture and based only on that they raid a family home, scare the shit out of the kids and lock the father up?! I think they need to revalute how they look at abuse



Lauryn Woods

That poor family, I can't imagine how that little girl was traumatized for a little creative story telling. The whole situation is absolutely sickening

Jenna Johnston

I may be mistaken, but it is my understanding that citizens in Canada do not have the right to have firearms unless they are law enforcement or military, and then only  when performing their jobs.  Again, I could be wrong but that is what I have been told.  I'll tell you what is worse than that... HERE in AMERICA, where we DO have the right to keep and bear arms, govornment officials are searching mental health records of veterans of war and former military.  If there is a history of PTSD- most  veterans have suffered from this at some point, then they are going into homes, searching and siezing ANY firearms owned by these people.  I am not talking about people with a criminal record... perfectly well-behaved, law abiding citizens.  I personally know of vets who have been upstanding members of their communities with ZERO criminal or crazy behavior in thier background (not so much as a traffic ticket, mind you) who suffered from PTSD over 30 years ago, now stashing perfectly legally owned guns at homes of friends and relatives out of fear they could be next.  IN AMERICA!!!! The men and women who have defended our freedoms (like the right to keep and bear arms) are being treated like cartell kingpins.

tammy... tammyc1106

That is ridiculous what they did! A simple parent, teacher conference would have cleared up any questions. The daughter's question when her father was released " are you mad at me?" breaks my heart! This poor child has to be so afraid to draw or say anything to anyone anymore in fear that her father or mother may be arrested. A different approach definitely should have been taken. I believe that they owe that family a HUGE apology for putting them through that nonsense over a drawing!

Virginia Daloisio

Sorry but this is not an overaction. In this case they found nothing but in other cases it could have saved the child or family. I am a teacher and many years ago I had a child come in first thing in the morning and tell us she was upset because she left her father home with a gun. We sent the cops to the house and they found him with the gun in his mouth ready to commit suicide. Thank God we "overreacted"! Another time we had a child coming to school with more and more black & blues each day. Again we called the authorities (as we had to do by law in that state). They went to investigate and the child was brought to the hospital for observation. Turns out there was no child abuse but he did have leukemia which the parents were unaware of and he was able to get the treatment requirede to save his life. Again, thank God we "overreacted"! What the school did was not overreacting, it was just trying to prevent the worst possible outcome. Teaching for 39 years in different states I could give you MANY more of the same scenerios. Don't be so fast to judge without knowing the whys!

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