A father from Kitchener Ontario was arrested on Wednesday when picking his daughter up to school, was taken into the police station, not specifically explained his charge, strip-searched, had his children taken to be questioned by child-services, and had his pregnant wife be made to come in to answer ambiguous questions, all on account that his kindergartener daughter having drawn a picture of a man holding a gun.
“I’m picking up my kids and then, the next thing you know, I’m locked up,” said Jessie Sansone, 26.
Turns out the “gun” was a transparent plastic kid’s toy.
Not that the school is apologizing. Though the police department and possibly the child’s protective services are doing internal investigations, the school is sticking to their own guns in saying they did the right thing. They, of course, found the likelihood of a real gun being given to the children as a toy to be compelling. The child had, after all, explained her drawing, saying, “That’s my daddy’s. He uses it to shoot bad guys and monsters.” Perhaps she said this in a tone that suggested seriousness. There was no report if a search for the alleged monsters is also under way.
“From a public safety point of view, any child drawing a picture of guns and saying there’s guns in the home would warrant some further conversation with the parents and child,” said Alison Scott, director of Family and Children’s Services, not mentioning arrests and strip searches, and regarding a child’s drawing of guns (or even swords?) to be an unlikely event.
“I couldn’t confirm that mistakes were made as we will be doing an internal review to try and establish if they were,” said Inspector Kevin Thaler. “What we were investigating was a drawing of a handgun [that is, a plastic toy] at the school and subsequently through the investigation, the officers identified the weapon that was drawn was, in fact, a replica to gun in the residence.” The “replica” he refers to replicates a model that must be out of circulation.
“We have seen these weapons,” he continued, in reference to the plastic rubber dart gun, “we have seen these ‘items’ are in our community, they have been altered and would appear to an adult to be a real firearm, and in these cases they were used to commit robberies, and in this case I am not surprised that a child had the belief that it was real,” he said, alleging that the child regarding the transparent plastic toy gun which she no doubt saw in action as capable of killing real life ‘bad guys.’
Allison Scott defended herself in these terms: “We followed all policies and procedures as required and I would not have anything further to add to this,” she said, adding, “We are mandated under provincial legislation to respond to situations of child protection,” alleging that this in fact was such a situation. “If you would like to speak to our provincial association further about the provincial requirements you can call our Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies,” she further deferred.
Sansone had this to say, after all the official and oh so necessary mistakes were made: “To be honest with you, I broke down. My character got put down so much. I was actually really hurt, like it could happen that easy.”