A middle school in North Carolina has suspended a 13-year-old boy after he drew stick figures holding guns, setting off a nationwide controversy.
The boy, who is in seventh grade at Roseboro-Salemburg Middle School, was suspended from school for two days after teachers found his drawings, WTOL reported. But the boy’s father, James Herring, said that the middle schooler was just expressing his creativity and not making any kind of threat.
“I see him holding his gun – he’s a deer hunter – I see him with a magician and I see him as a Ninja Turtle,” Herring told the news outlet. “Just expressing himself, nothing violent.”
Herring added that there are guns in his family’s home, but they are safely locked away, WTOL reported. He believes the school’s suspension may have been a reaction to the recent school shootings and that they are overreacting. The suspension happened a couple of weeks ago, in the wake of the deadly shooting in Parkland, Florida, but has just reached the news this week.
A picture of the stick figure published in some local media outlets showed a man wearing a hat holding what appeared to be a rifle. It did not appear that the stick figure was firing the gun at anyone else.
The story of the boy’s suspension for drawing a stick figure with a gun has generated headlines nationwide and sparked debate on whether the punishment was too harsh. As KTRK reported, there was already quite a bit of debate around North Carolina regarding the boy’s suspension, and the story has now started to attract attention across the country as well.
This is not the first time a student has been suspended under controversial circumstances. Back in 2014, a 10-year-old boy was suspended for three days from his school in Ohio after he made his finger into the shape of a gun. As CNN reported, the boy was playing with friends when he pointed a finger in the shape of a gun and said, “Boom.” The other students did not see the mock gun but the teacher did, and the boy was sent to the principal’s office and ultimately suspended.
The boy suspended in North Carolina for drawing a stick figure with a gun has already served his suspension and is now back in school.