Does student art of crucifix somehow cross a line?

I will leave this to those of you who work with children, but I have a problem seeing any threat in the drawing of a crucifix by a Massachusetts 8-year-old. Apparently, it alarmed the teacher

This class drawing by a Massachusetts child led to his removal from the class. Is it that alarming?

This class drawing by a Massachusetts child allegedly led to his removal from the class. Is it that alarming? (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

and signaled to her that the child was somehow troubled. (Read the story in the AJC.)

Please note that the story has changed today – Wednesday – with the school system saying that there is more to this story.  Read the update here in the AJC. .

What’s odd to me is that crucifixes are pretty common in Massachusetts, where there are many Catholics. I grew up Catholic and had crucifixes in my home and dozens around my Catholic school.

According to the original story:

TAUNTON, Mass. — An 8-year-old boy was sent home from school and ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation after he was asked to make a Christmas drawing and came up with what appeared to be a stick figure of Jesus on a cross, the child’s father said Tuesday.

The boy was cleared to return to school on Dec. 7 after the evaluation found nothing to indicate that he posed a threat to himself or others. But his father said the boy was traumatized by the incident and the school district has approved the family’s request to have the child transferred to another school.

The father said in the days before the incident the family had gone to the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro, where there are crucifixion statues.

“That was fresh on his mind,” he told NECN. “And that was a good thing that he saw.”

Superintendent Julie Hackett said she could not discuss an individual student and did not address the drawing specifically or the teacher’s reaction to it, but did say the school has safety protocols in place that were followed.

Is this an overreaction or is there more here?

64 comments Add your comment

Kevin

December 15th, 2009
5:59 pm

This “Happy Holidays” stuff is bogus. It violates the first amendment. Anyone who is with me please post. MARRY CHRISTMAS. Who’s with me?

Wow!

December 15th, 2009
6:00 pm

I hate when stupid people make it more difficult for the rest of us. When I was 8 I drew a naked picture of Adam and Eve after hearing the story – nobody freaked out, and I had NUNS for teachers!! What is wrong with some people?

Deborah B

December 15th, 2009
6:05 pm

I think the teacher went overboard. If I were the kid I would have drawn the same thing. I also think the teacher took this so serious because the drawing was of Jesus and he or she may not have liked the fact that it was religious. I will commend the boy.
-Deborah

RJ

December 15th, 2009
6:51 pm

The student was asked to draw a picture about Christmas so he drew a picture of Christ on the cross. Here’s the problem, if people want to take the “Christ” out of Christmas and make it into a touchy, feel good secular holiday. Well, it is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. This is absolutely ridiculous. The teacher should’ve received a written reprimand. Did she bother to even ask the student why he drew that picture? This is just plain ole dumb.

oldtimer

December 15th, 2009
7:03 pm

I agree with the above posts. The teacher overreacted. Seems to me common sense is not common anymore.

V for Vendetta

December 15th, 2009
7:19 pm

I feel sorry for the kid, but not for drawing the crucifix. I feel worse that he’s being carted around to go look at such things at his age.

Poor little guy.

ScienceTeacher671

December 15th, 2009
7:26 pm

If the story is as the father related it, it’s insane. I’m always hesitant to comment on cases like this, though, since we are only able to get one side of the story.

Yeah right!

December 15th, 2009
8:00 pm

@v for vendetta

and with that bigoted statement you show why most parents want NOTHING to du with the public school system.

Jennifer

December 15th, 2009
8:01 pm

Over reaction.

Philosopher

December 15th, 2009
9:25 pm

@V for Vendetta: Your post is very disappointing! You expect us to respect your right to be an atheist..so how about refraining from the nasty comments towards people who have faith! That was a hideous thing to say.

irisheyes

December 15th, 2009
9:48 pm

V, doesn’t your statement smack a little bit of a double standard? I’m supposed to respect your right to be an atheist, (Which, if that’s what you believe, great for you)but you can make disparaging remarks about a family’s religious beliefs? How’s that work exactly?

Bandit

December 15th, 2009
10:48 pm

wrong marry kevin

I swear religious people are becoming more and more stupid by the year.

Shannon, M.Div.

December 15th, 2009
11:18 pm

I suspect that V is pointing toward the violence of the crucifixion. I know that we Christians are so accustomed to it that we often don’t notice it anymore (in fact, it’s that way with most violence), but the crucifixion is a horrible act. Theologically speaking, that’s rather the point. For many of us, confronting young children with painful violence is problematic. It’s not a religious tolerance issue. It’s a psychological issue.

Geneva

December 15th, 2009
11:42 pm

In all my 59 years of life, including motherhood, public school teaching, Sunday school teaching and many varied cross cultural experiences both in the US and overseas, I have yet to meet a single small child damaged psychologically by the story of the crucifixion presented in the context of the whole Jesus story. This is absurd!

DrCruel

December 16th, 2009
12:04 am

Religious people in the US are getting stupider and stupider every year – but so are atheists, and indeed anyone else who is a product of our failing, politicized, guild-controlled public school system. In the name of a quasi-Marxist version of “politically conscious” education (and “quasi”, as most public school teachers at this point are not even sophisticated enough to even understand their own ideology), and in teh name of supporting increasingly lazy and ignorant tenured “guild” teachers, US standards for primary and secondary education have steadily declined. Meanwhile, guild leaders control who gets to be a teacher at the certification end – I’m personally familiar with th eprocess, and have seen skilled student teachers weeded out in favor of guild loyalists.

So it’s not a question of religious tolerance. Nor has it anything to do with “insensitivity to violence”. It’s everything to do with a monopolistic guild that has optimized the education system – not in th ename of American children, but in favor of enriching teachers and pushing a 19th century secular totalitarian ideology that even they themselves barely understand.

It’s a nasty system, and it get worse every year. A federal school voucher system would cure the problem ,and they know it, which is why the AFT, NEA and every teachers union has fought the idea ferociously whenever and wherever it has been tried (to include the DC school authority, where unionized teachers were successful in quashing a scholarship program for promising minority students otherwise stuck in the failing DC system).

So let’s see if this outrageous event sparks the public to do something more proactive about our ruinous guilded school monopoly. Else we can wait for a new, more ridiculous example of our out-of-control school guilds to manifest – because it’s not going to get any better until our entire education system is overhauled, and the limousine socialists that rule it and run it for their own selfish profit and ideological gratification are fired.

Bob

December 16th, 2009
1:10 am

I think the teacher overreacted too. We need more acceptance for torture in our society so those pinkos can shut up about waterboarding, if the Romans were allowed to do it, it must be fine.

Thomas

December 16th, 2009
1:24 am

Religion is a crime against the state. The school was right. This child should be removed from school and forced to undergo psychiatric evaluations for turning in such a drawing. His parents should also be detained and considered for psychiatric evaluation. As the state eradicates religion and other superstition, it must step up government surveillance and public mind control. The citizens have no rights.

Ole Guy

December 16th, 2009
2:42 am

What the hell’s wrong with people? The kid was expressing, through Symbology, that which he had learned represented Christ…HE WAS EXPRESSING CHRIST, for crying out loud! Relating Christ to the true meaning of Christmas, he drew what he felt was the appropriate Symbol.

Let’s be perfectly honest here. In our Christian mindset, we teach young impressionable kids values which we ourselves may have difficulty accepting. So what…Christmas and the Crucifixion of Christ represent, in our adult intellects, both the Beginning and the End of the Life of Christ. AN 8 YEAR-OLD KID IS NOT PSYCHOLOGICALLY EQUIPED TO MAKE THOSE DESTINCTIONS…Whoever started this whole fiasco by sending the kid home does not need to be anywhere near a kid. If justice prevails, said individual will be held legally, if not professionally, accountable for the psychological confusion this kid must be undergoing. I am certain the reading public, and most-certainly educators everywhere, would appreciate it if Superintendent Hackett could elaborate on the safety protocols to which she makes reference.

Student missed out

December 16th, 2009
6:03 am

The sad thing is, if he had only put it in a glass of urine and submitted it to judging, he might have gotten an NEA grant instead of psychiatric evaluation.

blowfish

December 16th, 2009
6:14 am

OK..I’m a little slow this AM…been up since 4:00, but Thomas, you’re kidding, right?

Shannon, M.Div.

December 16th, 2009
7:47 am

Geneva, the *story* is different than the *image*. Furthermore, a child exposed in a church to *images* of Jesus dying on a cross isn’t necessarily getting the cross in the context of Jesus’ life.

DrCruel, some people will take any story and make it about their pet issue. Sound familiar?

Thomas, slippery slope much? I get your sarcasm, but being concerned about a child’s psychological state is not actually the first step to, um, citizen mind control. Good grief.

Most importantly, however, the school system has come out and stated publicly that (a) this is not the image the child drew in class, (b) the children were never instructed to draw a holiday image, and (c) the school was working *with* the family to help the child.

Christians really need to stop promoting faith-based victimization stories, especially fraudulent stories. It’s a terrible witness and most unChristlike. No, the government is not out to get Christians. In fact, our government is largely run by Christians. There is no war on Christmas, and even if there were, it was originally a pagan holiday that is nowhere mentioned in Scripture as a sacred holy feast. It’s a tradition, and I certainly hope that our celebration of Jesus’ birth is not dependent on a retail merchant’s or government’s acknowledgment.

V for Vendetta

December 16th, 2009
8:07 am

Shannon,

Thanks for your common sense and understanding. Those that know me around here know that I am an outspoken Atheist; however, I was raised Catholic, and I’ve always found the exploitative violence of the Bible, especially the Pentateuch, more than a bit troubling. It’s not that I’m a pacifist; I just prefer not to expose children to such violence–even if it’s in the name of “righteousness.”

Another example: When I saw The Passion of the Christ in the theater, I was shocked and horrified at the number of parents there with young children. The events leading up to and finally culminating in Jesus’s death are often portrayed with a sort of sadomasochistic glee.

Aside from my ideological quibbles with religion, I would also prefer my children not to be exposed to such exploitative violence until they are much older and more mature.

Again, the teacher made a bad call here, but I still don’t agree with this aspect of the parents’ faith.

V for Vendetta

December 16th, 2009
8:17 am

Ole Guy,

Though the teacher made a bad decision, why would you hold the teacher legally accountable for something you admit is a struggle for the student to understand? You also say “we ourselves may have difficulty accepting.” Again, why would you hold the teacher legally responsible for the child’s “confusion” if you are unable to understand yourself?

In that case, maybe the church should be held accountable for the child’s confusion. After all, he wouldn’t be confused if he hadn’t gone there in the first place. Just a thought.

jim d

December 16th, 2009
8:56 am

mo,

I think I’m actually beginning to understand your sense of humor!

“crucifix somehow cross a line”

Philosopher

December 16th, 2009
9:05 am

Ole Guy: It might nearly kill me, but I absolutely agree with you.:) That teacher needs psycological testing-not the kid. (if the facts are as stated)
@V for Vendetta- the confusion that I see the kid having to deal with is why the school would traumatize him, embarrass him, and put him in a position where his peers will at best think something is wrong with him, simply because he expressed what he understood in the form of art- his style. Feel free to be faithless-discuss the reasons when and where appropriate…but your verbal contempt for Christians and their beliefs is laced with a great deal of mockery, disrespect,and intolerance… disturbing from someone to whom we send our kids to learn.

first time poster

December 16th, 2009
9:10 am

I always find it funny when people hear a story, over react and then the next day more is added to the story which completely changes it. Never fails.

mom2two

December 16th, 2009
9:17 am

Doesn’t the more recent story indicate that the child said it was a picture of himself, not Christ, on the cross? That might be what concerned the teacher. It would sure concern me!

Personally, I think that there is a lot more going on here than we are being told. The angry father found a wonderful way to appeal to the public sentiment and the press (doesn’t it make a great story: Evil Liberal School System Hates Christmas?), but I am quite certain that there is more to the story that the school system, because of privacy concerns, is not able to share.

mystery poster

December 16th, 2009
9:21 am

I agree with Science Teacher. This story is just too bizarre, we have certainly not heard both sides of the issue.

The father tells his side of the story, but legally the school cannot. Dad wanted to get his son transferred to another school, and bingo: mission accomplished.

LG

December 16th, 2009
9:40 am

Could it be the teacher reacted that way because the crucifix has to do with Jesus’s DEATH and not with Jesus’s BIRTH? Raised as a Catholic, we were taught the Christmas symbols were the star and the nativity not the cross. Not knowing where the family just visited, perhaps the teacher thought the boy had death on his mind and maybe thinking suicidal thoughts.

Private school guy

December 16th, 2009
9:51 am

OK if the students had seen a painting of Teddy Roosvelt charging San Juan Hill or some other heroic artwork and drew a picture of himself with a sword or gun would he have been suspended? More than likely yes. Common sense has gone out the window.

DeKalb Conservative

December 16th, 2009
9:53 am

I’m from MA and familiar with the Taunton area. The state and the suburbs are heavily Catholic. I’m by no means a religious nut job, but the prospect of a “normal” student drawing something like this isn’t really newsworthy, especially when you consider this image would be all over the place in church and Sunday school, or CCD classes.

I suppose if the student was Native American and living in the Plymouth area around Thanksgiving, a drawing of a shirtless man with a bow and arrow in hand would draw similar ideas.

A great blog to follow this local event in MA is michaelgraham.com — it also has a local TV station video about the story.

DeKalb Conservative

December 16th, 2009
9:56 am

I would like to argue that cases like this serve to illustrate the downside of zero tolerance policies. Sending this kid for a psych evaluation is over the top.

DeKalb Conservative

December 16th, 2009
10:02 am

Digging deeper, the student was asked to draw something that made him think of Christmas. He had just visited the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette a few towns over. This place puts on one of the best Christmas displays that I know of in this part of the country.

There are alot of religious symbols there, which makes sense, but the size of the decorations gives a big “wow” factor. Below is a link of pictures. Surprise, Surprise — lots of crucifixes with Christmas lights around it.

http://www.lasalette-shrine.org/photo_gallery_2.html

V for Vendetta

December 16th, 2009
10:20 am

Philosopher,

“Mockery, disrespect, and intolerance”?

You know, it’s funny . . . when I keep my mouth shut, I’m left alone by (most) religious folks. As soon as people find out that I don’t believe in God, it’s as if all hell broke loose. (Please pardon the pun.) What adults choose to believe doesn’t bother me; however, what does bother me (because I care about kids) is seeing children indoctrinated into a belief system without being given any choice. People throw the word “indoctrinated” around a lot in the South, but it’s usually attached to some sort of anti-liberal polemic, raging against the latest form of socialism to be imposed upon us by our government. Isn’t it ironic that so many of those people are doing the same thing to their own children.

There’s no such thing as a Christian child. There’s no such thing as a Jewish child. There’s no such thing as an Islamic child.

There are only parents who foist their beliefs upon their own children. Some of the most mocking, disrespectful, and intolerant people I know are religious. I’m more than happy to stand apart from them.

high school teacher

December 16th, 2009
10:29 am

According to the ajc today, the school denies that he was suspended over the drawing, that he did not draw a crucifix at school, and that the teacher never assigned the students the task of drawing something that represents a religious holiday:
http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/mass-school-denies-suspending-241815.html

DeKalb Conservative

December 16th, 2009
11:01 am

@ High School Teacher

I’m going against the AJC and their 1,000+ mile handicap. Plus the fact remains he was sent for a pysch evaluation. Not sure who the school is pointing the blame on that, but I’m fairly certain it wasn’t the boy’s father requesting it.

Here’s a link to the video My Fox Boston Taunton Video

Harris

December 16th, 2009
11:05 am

This poor kid’s ignorant and irresponsible parents are looking for a lawsuit against the school system so they can put some presents under the Christmas tree this year. This kind of stuff goes on in public schools everyday. Why is this story in headline news? Whatever happened to responsible journalism?

Larry

December 16th, 2009
12:37 pm

@mom2two, yes – reports, including early ones, noted the father said the kid sketched himself, not Jesus. Noticeably absent in any report I can find is the identity of “Jalen” whose name appears at the top of the cross.

The problem with objectively looking at available information and the school’s reaction is that drawling is almost certainly not a crucifix, but illustrates the death of some living person named Jalen – either one of his friends or the kid himself. Viewed this way, the situation makes sense but looses its entertainment value.

When news breaks, we fix it.

Philosopher

December 16th, 2009
12:41 pm

Harris- You have absoultely no knowledge to base such an irresponsible, slanderous,nasty accusation. I would certainly hope that if your child were in this situation, you would be horrified, outraged, and LOUD about it! And your statement about this going on everyday in public schools SHOULD get you pounced on by every teacher who posts here…

Greg

December 16th, 2009
12:53 pm

Folks, please… some of you need to calm down just a bit. First of all, the school is not able to tell it’s side of the story because of laws designed to protect the prvacy of the child involved. The father of the child is under no such restriction, and is therefore free to offer up whatever tales he likes, regardless of whether or not they may be factually acurate. These “facts” are then lapped up by news outlets desperate for a new, outrageous story to fill up the 24-hour news cycle. Nevermind that there appears to be very little fact checking going on.

It’s obvious that there is way more to this story than is being reported. For example… the school cannot force a psychological evaluation of the child… it can only recommend it. Nothing wrong with that.

Some of you who are claiming that the school’s actions are proof that “common sense has gone out the window” need to realize that the real proof of that lies in your knee-jerk reactions to this incomplete story.

V for Vendetta

December 16th, 2009
12:58 pm

Philosopher,

Harris meant that parents use the school as a bank every single day. They come up with something about which to gripe, and they use that as a wedge to extort money from a system they know would rather settle out of court than appear in the news.

As Harris said, this happens all the time. It’s really sad.

clueless

December 16th, 2009
1:05 pm

Amazing how many people are willing to think the worst of schools and run with it, even if there is little or no evidence one way or another.

Shannon, M.Div.

December 16th, 2009
1:09 pm

@DeKalb Conservative: It’s not like the AJC sent somebody up there or made a few phone calls. It’s an AP (Associated Press) story. AP reporters are some of the most solid (and least “agendaed”) in the world, IMO. I’d trust them.

Folks, the school disputes this story. What makes more sense? A grand anti-Christian conspiracy, or one man in one family seeking attention and/or money?

MS Teacher

December 16th, 2009
1:52 pm

Come on people! Any public school teacher or administrator anywhere knows you can’t kick a kid out of school for simply drawing a religious symbol. You also don’t refer a child for a psych evaluation because of one incident. There has to be a history with this child that isn’t being revealed. There is obvioulsy more to the story here, but we more than likely won’t hear it because of privacy laws to protect the student.

Contrary to many folks opinions on this blog…most teachers don’t get out of bed in the morning and say “how can I make a child miserable today”!!!!!

Genasis

December 16th, 2009
2:34 pm

I sat on my couch and watched this in complete amazement and disbelief of the idiocracy of the entire thing. CHRIST-mas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The child was asked what Christmas meant to him and he related it to a play he had been exposed to. In either case, how dare you people and you know who you are to criticize that father for exposing his son to the crucifixion! Do you honestly believe when Christ was being crucified no children were around?? Yes unfortunately our children are exposed to things that are horrific including idiotic wars. Don’t even get me started!!

Now if you are an atheist and choose not to believe in Christ or any other entity, that is your choice, but don’t sit back with your non-belief and pass judgment on those that believe. The teacher knew immediately what the little boy drew and what he meant. She didn’t care. She used her personal biased opinion to single this child out more than likely because she didn’t want to have to explain to the remainder of the class what the little boy did draw.

I feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t know Christ as their Lord and Savior. I know Him for myself. My mother didn’t drag me to anyone’s church. I wasn’t beat over the head or forced into any belief. The Lord came in MY life and introduced Himself to me. I don’t and won’t ever apologize for my beliefs nor will I criticize someone that doesn’t believe and say they should be ashamed of what they expose THEIR children to.

I am always amazed that the people in this country are trying so hard to not recognize Jesus Christ and Godly principles when this country was founded on Godly principles. I feel sorry for those that don’t know the Lord in the parting of their sins. And even more for those that have the audacity to criticize parents that know Christ and choose to raise their children to know Christ.

This is exactly why the WORD of God says Christ looks out for Fools and Babes!!!!!

woodie

December 16th, 2009
2:46 pm

Why are schools constantly making stupid decisions? It’s really annoying. Maybe they just hate their jobs or something.

Mary Jo

December 16th, 2009
2:53 pm

Merry Christmas!
Time to take your COUNTY back!!!

Genasis

December 16th, 2009
3:00 pm

I sat on my couch and watched this in complete amazement and disbelief of the idiocracy of the entire thing. CHRIST-mas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The child was asked what Christmas meant to him and he related it to a play he had been exposed to. In either case, how dare you people and you know who you are to criticize that father for exposing his son to the crucifixion! Do you honestly believe when Christ was being crucified no children were around?? Yes unfortunately our children are exposed to things that are horrific including idiotic wars. Don’t even get me started!!

Now if you are an atheist and choose not to believe in Christ or any other entity, that is your choice, but don’t sit back with your non-belief and pass judgment on those that believe. The teacher knew immediately what the little boy drew and what he meant. She didn’t care. She used her personal biased opinion to single this child out more than likely because she didn’t want to have to explain to the remainder of the class what the little boy did draw.

I feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t know Christ as their Lord and Savior. I know Him for myself. My mother didn’t drag me to anyone’s church. I wasn’t beat over the head or forced into any belief. The Lord came in MY life and introduced Himself to me. I don’t and won’t ever apologize for my beliefs nor will I criticize someone that doesn’t believe and say they should be ashamed of what they expose THEIR children to.

I am always amazed that the people in this country are trying so hard to not recognize Jesus Christ and Godly principles when this country was founded on Godly principles. I feel sorry for those that don’t know the Lord in the parting of their sins. And even more for those that have the audacity to criticize parents that know Christ and choose to raise their children to know Christ.

This is exactly why the WORD of God says Christ looks out for Fools and Babes!!!!!

Ole Guy

December 16th, 2009
3:28 pm

Philo, this, to, may nearly kill me, but…YOU DA MAN! Merry Christmas!

E

December 16th, 2009
4:23 pm

Did the WORD say to not read comments or articles before responding also?