12 Year Old Arrested for Doodling on a Desk

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2010

There was no profanity, no hate. Just the words, "I love my friends Abby and Faith. Lex was here 2/1/10" scrawled on the classroom desk with a green marker.

Alexa Gonzalez, an outgoing 12-year-old who likes to dance and draw, expected a lecture or maybe detention for her doodles earlier this month. Instead, the principal of the Junior High School in Forest Hills, New York, called police, and the seventh-grader was taken across the street to the police precinct.

Alexa's hands were cuffed behind her back, and tears gushed as she was escorted from school in front of teachers and -- the worst audience of all for a preadolescent girl -- her classmates.

"They put the handcuffs on me, and I couldn't believe it," Alexa recalled. "I didn't want them to see me being handcuffed, thinking I'm a bad person."...

In 2007, a 13-year-old wrote "Okay" on her desk, and police handcuffed and arrested her. She was one of several students arrested in the class that day; the others were accused of plastering the walls with stickers...

In November, a food fight at a middle school in Chicago, Illinois, resulted in the arrests of 25 children, some as young as 11, according to the Chicago Police Department.

The Strategy Center, a California-based civil rights group that tracks zero tolerance policies, found that at least 12,000 tickets were issued to tardy or truant students by Los Angeles Police Department and school security officers in 2008. The tickets tarnished students' records and brought them into the juvenile court system, with fines of up to $250 for repeat offenders.

Girl's arrest for doodling raises concerns about zero tolerance, Stephanie Chen, CNN, February 18, 2010, http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/02/18/new.york.doodle.arrest/index.html?hpt=C1.