Whether you side with paranoid school officials or the furious mother on this one, there's something we can all agree on: Poor kid.
Six-year-old Jack was caught drawing a “disturbing picture” in his classroom at Taper Avenue Elementary School in San Pedro. Those who saw the, uh, piece, told KTLA it was a violent image with a supplementary written message: Jack said he wanted to die.
That was enough to sound the sirens. School admin quickly called in the Los Angeles County psychiatric mobile response team, who declared a 72-hour psychiatric hold on the boy and whisked him off to the hospital…
… strapped in an ambulance.
This was all to the incredible dismay of his mother, Syndi Dorman. She now tells reporters that the way LAUSD handled her child was “right up there with her worst nightmare.” She maintains that Jack was only upset because his father is being deployed to Iraq, and that he had really wanted to stay home that day. (Which brings up a new possibility: Genius plan to get out of class, gone terribly wrong amid a jumpy LAUSD atmosphere created by Tucson massacre, recent L.A. school shooting scares, etc.?)
Here's the part that's actually most disturbing of all, though it's somewhat skipped over as insignificant:
“L.A. School officials said they were concerned about a picture he drew. I said he plays video games and it's a picture from a video game.”
Dorman said her son suffers from separation anxiety and has seen a therapist in the past.
Reeeewind. This kid is allowed to play violent video games at six years old, while perfectly aware his dad is doing the same thing only with real blood while overseas in the U.S. Army?
Come on — aren't there ratings on those things?
[Update: LA Weekly commenter discotechwolfe, who says he's Jack's big brother, tells us news reporters got the boy's age wrong — that he's actually eight. The commenter writes: “He drew a picture of zombies and wrote those words because he is distraught over my stepdad leaving. he is not suicidal at all … ive spent many evenings playing video games w jack.”]
Dorman is of course fuming that, even after her son asked for his mother and she promised to take him straight to his therapist, the emergency team forced him to go on a “traumatizing” ambulance ride and remain in the psych ward. “I was trying to reassure him it would be OK and he asked if I'd come back for him, and I said of course I'm going to come back for you,” she tells KTLA.
Both LAUSD and Dorman are defending their positions:
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines released a statement, saying in part, “When any student indicates a desire to take his or her own life, the LAUSD is required to follow strict protocols to ensure the safety of the student … The safety of LAUSD students is paramount. We did the right thing here.”
Jack was released after 48 hours, but his mother says the experience will have lasting effects.
“My son doesn't want to go back to school. He's afraid they're going to take him away again.”
Yeah, well — we'd want to stay home, too. Why waste time recreating violent “Call of Duty” scenes with a crayon when we could have the real thing while snuggled into the nonjudgmental family sofa? And without all those annoying old people hovering around, making all their stupid psychiatric assessments and whatnot.
Only thing that could make this more screwy would be a sniper billboard right across the street. Like we said: poor kid.