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Fantasy Arrest

February 25, 2012 permalink

When four-year-old girl Nevaeh Sansone drew a picture of a gun, police and children's aid left no stone unturned. Father Jessie Sansone was arrested, strip-searched and his home was ransacked before police realized the gun was a four-year-old's fantasy.



Man shocked by arrest after daughter draws picture of gun at school Jessie Sansone was arrested at his daughter's school after the 4-year-old drew a picture of a gun.

Jessie Sansone with daughter Neaveh
Arrested Jessie Sansone was arrested at his daughter's school after the 4-year-old drew a picture of a gun.
Peter Lee, Record staff

KITCHENER — A Kitchener father is upset that police arrested him at his children’s’ school Wednesday, hauled him down to the station and strip-searched him, all because his four-year-old daughter drew a picture of a gun at school.

“I’m picking up my kids and then, next thing you know, I’m locked up,” Jessie Sansone, 26, said Thursday.

“I was in shock. This is completely insane. My daughter drew a gun on a piece of paper at school.”

The school principal, police and child welfare officials, however, all stand by their actions. They said they had to investigate to determine whether there was a gun in Sansone’s house that children had access to.

“From a public safety point of view, any child drawing a picture of guns and saying there’s guns in a home would warrant some further conversation with the parents and child,” said Alison Scott, executive director of Family and Children’s Services.

Waterloo Regional Police Insp. Kevin Thaler said there was a complaint from Forest Hills public school that “a firearm was in a residence and children had access to it. We had every concern, based on this information, that children were in danger.”

Their concern wasn’t based on the drawing alone, he said.

Neaveh, the child who made the drawing, also made comments about it that raised more flags.

Sansone thinks police overreacted. He didn’t find out until hours after his arrest what had actually sparked the incident.

He said he went to the school Wednesday afternoon to pick up his three children. He was summoned to the principal’s office where three police officers were waiting. They said he was being charged with possession of a firearm.

He was escorted from the school, handcuffed and put in the back of a cruiser.

At the same time, other police officers went to his home, where his wife and 15-month-old child were waiting for his return.

They made his wife come to the police station while the other three children were taken to Family and Children’s Services to be interviewed.

“Nobody was given any explanation,” said his wife, Stephanie Squires. “I didn’t know why he was being arrested.

“He had absolutely no idea what this was even about. I just kept telling them. ‘You’re making a mistake.’ ”

At the police station, Sansone talked to a lawyer who said only that he was being charged with possession of a firearm, Sansone said.

He kept asking questions. He was given a blanket and told he would appear before a judge in the morning to post bail.

“I was getting pretty scared at that point,” Sansone said. “It seemed like I was actually being charged at this point.”

He was forced to remove his clothes for a full strip search.

Several hours later, a detective apologized and said he was being released with no charges, Sansone said.

The detective told him that his four-year-old daughter had drawn a picture of a man holding a gun. When a teacher asked her who the man was, the girl replied, “That’s my daddy’s. He uses it to shoot bad guys and monsters.”

“To be honest with you, I broke down,” Sansone said. “My character got put down so much. I was actually really hurt, like it could happen that easy.

“How do you recognize a criminal from a father?’’

He said he thought he had good relations with the principal who offered him a job last year counselling students at the school.

“We’re educated,’’ he said. “I’m a certified PSW (personal support worker) and a life issues counsellor. I go into schools to try to make a difference.’’

After he was released, Sansone was asked to sign a paper authorizing a search of his home. He signed, even though he didn’t have to, he said.

“I just think they blew it out of proportion,’’ Squires said. “It was for absolutely nothing. They searched our house upside down and found nothing. They had the assumption he owned a firearm.

“The way everything happened was completely unnecessary, especially since we know the school very well. I don’t understand how they came to that conclusion from a four-year-old’s drawing.’’

Scott, of Family and Children’s Services, said the agency was obligated to investigate after getting a report from the school.

“Our community would have an expectation if comments are made about a gun in a house, we’d be obligated to investigate that to ensure everything is safe.”

If there’s a potential crime that’s been committed, the agency must call in police, she said

“In the end, it may not be substantiated. There may be a reasonable explanation for why the child drew that gun. But we have to go on what gets presented to us.

“I’m sure this was a very stressful thing for the family,” she acknowledged.

The school principal, Steve Zack, said a staff member called child welfare officials because the law requires them to report anything involving the safety or neglect of a child.

The agency chose to involve police, he said.

“Police chose to arrest Jessie here. Nobody wants something like this to happen at any time, especially not at school. But that’s out of my hands.”

Sansone says he got into some trouble with the law five years ago, and was convicted of assault and attempted burglary. But he’s put all that behind him. He never had any firearms-related charges.

As for the strip search, Thaler said it was done “for officer safety, because it’s a firearms-related incident.

“At the point in the investigation when it was determined it was not a real firearm, the individual was released unconditionally,” he said.

Source: The Record

Addendum: World-wide reaction to this story has been outrage toward police and children's aid. For example, Ezra Levant, YouTube or local copy (mp4). But when John Oakley of am640 Toronto (mp3) interviewed Waterloo police chief Matthew A Torigian, the chief did not give a direct answer to any question. You will be pleased to learn that the police reaction was justified because the gun drawn by the girl was the same type used in recent Kitchener robberies.

Below Bruce Corcoran editorialized on the arrests of Chris Carter and Jessie Sansone.



Abuse of power

First, advocate Chris Carter is arrested in Chatham during a protest against Chatham-Kent Children’s Services (CKCS) – for personation, of all things. And then Jesse Sansone, father of three, gets hauled out of his kids’ school in Kitchener, is strip searched, and has his house searched by police – without a warrant – all because his four-year-old daughter drew a picture of a gun.Ah, the power of crayons. More to the point, the power of our child welfare services.It seems they are the collective Pied Piper for police – children’s aid plays the music, and our cops dance to it.How else do you explain such nonsensical actions? Here, Carter allegedly used a false name when visiting CKCS offices to help a local resident. He spent two nights in jail, the second of which came after he refused the bail conditions offered up by the Crown.While his arrest had a sour odour to it, Sansone’s has a foul stench surrounding it. His four-year-old daughter doodled, and said her daddy used the gun to “shoot bad guys and monsters” – pretty liberal context at the best of times in the age of video games, but more so when it’s coming from a junior kindergarten kid.So the teacher contacted child welfare officials and police were called in. Three officers arrested Sansone when he came to pick up his kids. The reason? Possession of a firearm. Except the only evidence he owned one was from a crayon drawing by his little girl. Other cops went to his house, sent his wife to the station with their 15-month old toddler, and rifled his house for the gun from the drawing. All they found was a see-through toy gun that fired plastic darts.Gee, perhaps the boogeyman and the monsters in the closet had been gunned down by the plastic darts at one time or another, such as on nights when a young girl with an active imagination had bad dreams.As Sun News Network commentator Ezra Levant questioned in regards to Waterloo Regional Police officials calling it a firearms-related incident, “are you that bag-of-hammers stupid?”The school, family services and police stand by their actions. Of course they will. To admit any error would just expedite the coming lawsuit.But in reality, there is no solid ground on which they can stand. The teacher and school stepped into the bog in contacting child services, which in turn stepped into it by not even discussing the matter with the parents, something Alison Scott, executive director of Family and Children’s Services for Waterloo Region, said is standard procedure. Instead, the organization leapfrogged straight to the police, who took a child’s picture of a gun to mean there was a real firearm in the house, one the kids had access to.Talk about leaps in paranoia. And it led to one terrible violation of Sansone. Reasonable suspicion? Due to a kid’s drawing? Good luck hiding behind that one.As we’ve said before, maybe the ones who need watching are the watchers.Bruce Corcoran

Source: Chatham Daily News

Further news discloses that the picture is gone — it was drawn on a whiteboard and promptly erased. The CAS case remains open.



Wrongfully arrested father gets no apologies

Jessie Sansone with Nevaeh
Jessie Sansone, 26, holds his four-year-old daughter Nevaeh in this undated photo.
Credits: Submitted/Sansone family

KITCHENER, ONT. - The Sansone family is not getting any apologies after they were put through hell by school officials, social workers and police last week.

And, the smoking gun -- a child's drawing that triggered the whole thing -- will never be seen.

"I am really sorry that the family is as upset as they are, but we followed proper standards and procedures," said Alison Scott, executive director of Family and Child Services for the Waterloo Region.

She told QMI Agency if the same situation happened again tomorrow, her organization would do the exact same thing over again.

"I do not see any need for our agency to apologize for fulfilling our mandated responsibility," Scott said.

The drawing that startled the teacher, who started the domino effect, has vanished.

Scott told QMI Agency it was drawn on a white board and had been erased. She doesn't know if anyone other than the teacher ever saw it. She also doesn't know if anyone took an image of it.

Jessie Sansone, a 26-year-old father of four, was arrested at his children's school, strip searched and held by police, told he was being charged with illegal possession of a firearm. Three of his children were taken by Family and Child Services to be questioned and his pregnant wife, Stephanie, was hauled down to the police station after their four-year-old daughter drew a picture of her dad holding a gun.

Police searched their house and neighbours said cops were going through the house all afternoon.

Eventually, police let Sansone go, saying all they found was a transparent plastic toy that shoots little plastic balls. The toy gun costs $16 at Canadian Tire.

Scott said it wasn't just the picture, but the resulting conversation with the junior kindergarten teacher that caused the state workers to go into red alert - but she won't say what was said.

"If there is a drawing where there is some information relayed through that drawing that children may have access to what is described as a gun, and that access may be unsupervised and these children may be concerned because the gun was pointed at them and they didn't feel safe, that would concern anyone," said Scott, speaking theoretically.

The social workers still have an "open investigation" on the family, despite police dropping all charges and launching a review of their own conduct.

The walls of the modest Sansone home are covered with family photos, certificates of achievement and framed scripture. The soft spoken young couple now have a lawyer and wanted to share with QMI Agency they are humbled and encouraged by all of the messages and posts supporting them.

Sansone said earlier that he had felt humiliated and isolated sitting in a cell, not knowing where his children were, or why he was being charged with anything, but getting messages from Tahsis B.C. to Truro, N.S., is balm for the soul.

Source: Sun News

Premier Dalton McGuinty praises the teachers.



Premier defends school after dad arrested over daughter's gun sketch

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is defending teachers and school officials in Kitchener who called authorities after a four-year-old girl drew a picture of her dad holding a gun.

McGuinty says he doesn't doubt the sincerity of the teachers and school officials, noting it's hard to know when to call the authorities in such cases.

The girl's father, Jessie Sansone, was arrested, strip searched and told he was being charged with illegal possession of a firearm.

Three of Sansone's children were also taken by Family and Child Services to be questioned, along with his pregnant wife.

The closest thing to a gun found their home was a transparent toy gun.

McGuinty says a review is underway, but noted that it's not easy for schools to make a judgment call when they believe a child's welfare may be at risk.

Source: Hamilton Spectator

Ontario premier defends probe of girl's gun drawing

Dalton McGuinty
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty speaks to the media, Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is defending Kitchener school officials for calling police and reporting a four-year-old girl who drew a picture of her father carrying a gun.

Father Jessie Sansone was arrested, strip searched and told he was being charged with illegal possession of a firearm after police were alerted to the drawing last week.

Sansone's three children and his pregnant wife were also questioned by Family and Child Services.

Waterloo Regional Police found only a transparent toy gun in Sansone's home during a search and Sansone was released without charges.

An internal police investigation has been launched into the way Sansone was treated by officers.

Speaking on Wednesday, McGuinty defended the school's decision to alert police to the potentially revealing picture, saying it is difficult for teachers and administrators to make such decisions when they believe a child's welfare could be at risk.

Sansone, an occasional hip hop performer, has hired a lawyer and his social media profiles have been removed from the Internet, including dozens of rap videos.

Sansone has previously been convicted of assault and attempted burglary.

Source: CTV

Attila Vinczer is collecting child pictures on this subject. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7].

In a revealing set of interviews Ezra Levant airs clips by Kris Sims taken inside the Sansone home, and interviews with Waterloo school board superintendent Gregg Bereznick (co-parent) and Waterloo CAS executive director Alison Scott (ice in her veins). YouTube, and local copy (mp4).

In an opinion piece in the Waterloo Record, Alison Scott tries to justify her actions, but uses the cop-out that she cannot comment on the recent case in the media. Why bother writing the article at all? Here is Scott's opinion and a rebuttal also from the Record.



Misinformation surrounds child’s drawing story

Over the past week, staff at Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region (the children’s aid society) have received a number of inquiries from our community about an investigation completed by the agency.

The investigation involved a young girl who had drawn a picture of her father holding a gun.

We wish to respond publicly to relieve any concerns our community may have, as well as clarify, as much as we can, our involvement. Most importantly, we want to ensure that some of the misinformation currently circulating does not prevent anyone from reporting a situation where a child is suspected of being abused or neglected. This would be the true tragic outcome of this story.

1. No children’s aid society would remove a child from their home solely based on a child’s drawing.

We cannot comment on the specifics of any case, however, it is important for our community to know that the duty of a children’s aid society, as prescribed in the Child and Family Services Act, is to investigate allegations or signs that a child under the age of 16 may be at risk of harm.

When we receive a call, we:

  • review local and provincial records to determine previous or current involvement with a children’s aid society;
  • consider all information known to us such as the nature of the referral, the risks to the child/family, including previous histories of violence and the presence of firearms.
  • When there is a concern that a crime may have been committed, it is a provincial requirement that the police are contacted — the police will also check for past involvement with an accused.

If we have knowledge that a child may have unsafe access to a gun, this would be a situation we would want to assess. We understand that most local gun owners securely store their firearms to ensure the safety of their children and children in the community.

Our role is to ensure there is no immediate safety risk for a child and ensure parents can keep their children safe and protected from harm. Our staff are committed to the safety and well-being of children, and are well-trained to fulfil these legal obligations.

2. All families have the right to be treated fairly and respectfully — without exception.

We, as with all children’s aid societies, have provisions in place to ensure that our families are treated fairly and respectfully, and the reason for our involvement is clearly explained to them. We remain accountable to the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services, to our community, and to the children and families we serve.

In Ontario, families have safeguards including the courts, the Child and Family Services Review Board, and an agency’s internal complaint procedure to ensure we are meeting our obligations.

Although we cannot comment about the details related to the recent case in the media, I am confident that as more information is made available, you will find that some of the characterizations presented in the media of Family and Children’s Services involvement have been sensationalized or inaccurate. We performed our role dutifully, meeting all our obligations.

Finally, on a personal note, I would like to say that it is a privilege to serve this community. I would also like to note that every one of our staff understand the incredible responsibility they have been charged with, and perform their job to the best of their ability year-round.

Alison Scott is executive director of the Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region.

Source: The Record

Toy gun controversy may deter others from reporting a child at risk, agency fears

Misinformation surrounds child’s drawing story

Over the past week, staff at Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region (the children’s aid...

WATERLOO REGION — Alison Scott says the child-welfare agency she directs did a good job investigating a family after a four-year-old girl sketched a gun at school.

But Scott is displeased with what she sees as sensational and inaccurate news reporting as well as online commentary, which she fears could make it harder to protect children.

A firestorm of controversy erupted after Kitchener father Jessie Sansone was arrested on Feb. 22 and strip-searched by police who found only a toy gun at home. Child-welfare officials questioned three children at their agency. No charges were laid.

Scott has cleared her agency of wrongdoing after conducting an internal review. Waterloo Regional Police are reviewing their investigation.

“We followed all of our policies and procedures,” said Scott, executive director of Family and Children’s Services of Waterloo Region.

Scott accused the media of inaccurate reporting. She said some reported the children were taken into her agency’s care. “The children were never taken into care,” she said, explaining children were transported to the agency for interviews, with a parent’s consent and with a parent present.

Scott worries people may now be dissuaded from reporting a child at risk, for fear of being drawn into a similar firestorm. “That would be the true tragic outcome of this story.”

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said he is happy to see police investigate their role.

“I wish we would have seen more from the school board, quite frankly,” he said after visiting Kitchener Friday. “And to hear children’s aid pat themselves on the back?

“Something clearly went terribly wrong here. And I think it’s chilling for all of us as parents, the notion that a kid can make a drawing out of crayon and a parent would end up being strip-searched, having the kids taken away, and being treated like a criminal.”

Police have refused to say why they compel detainees to remove their clothes or how often they do this.

The secrecy is at odds with past practice. In 1998, police said they compelled detainees to remove their clothes 3,000 times a year. In 2001, police made public their five-page procedure on “search of persons.”

That procedure was later revised after the Supreme Court of Canada prohibited routine strip searches. Revisions are deemed secret.

“We don’t put any of our procedures out,” Insp. Kevin Thaler said, refusing a request for the procedure on strip searches. “We have not made a policy of disclosing our internal procedures.”

Toronto Police publicly report strip searches. There were 31,072 in 2010 compared to 29,789 in 2009. Police reported finding an “item” in about one-third of searches.

The Supreme Court states: “Strip searches are inherently humiliating and degrading for detainees regardless of the manner in which they are carried out and for this reason they cannot be carried out simply as a matter of routine policy …

“In addition to reasonable and probable grounds justifying the arrest, the police must establish reasonable and probable grounds justifying the strip search.”

Waterloo Region’s police board chair Tom Galloway said the police services board will wait for the internal review before considering the secrecy around strip-search procedure. It may conclude in weeks.

He said the board did not direct police to keep the procedure secret. “There may be things in there that are necessarily kept confidential,” said Galloway, a regional councillor. “That’s a chief prerogative. It’s an operations issue.”

The board has a policy directing the chief to establish procedures for strip searches. The board policy released by Galloway does not say how searches are to be done.

Strip searches are termed “thorough searches” by local police.

Source: The Record

The National Post sums up reaction to the Sansone story.



Plenty of mistakes made, but no lessons learned in treatment of Jessie Sansone

Police in Waterloo, Ont. arrested, handcuffed and strip-searched an innocent man after his four-year-old daughter drew a picture in school of her daddy shooting monsters with a gun. He does not own a gun and was later released with apologies by police. But school and child welfare officials insist they did the right thing and would do it again. No one but the teacher ever saw the picture (it was erased), and her word was automatically taken over a parent, who wasn’t even asked for an explanation before being dragged off. Despite the deep concern we all have with child welfare, shouldn’t schools and other authorities at least show a modicum of respect for parents before assuming they’re crazed abusers?

Barbara Kay in Montreal: I had a similar situation once that I handled very differently. I was the editor of an anthology of creative writing for high school students. One girl sent in a beautifully written, but disturbing story about a girl who murdered her mother in revenge for some perceived grievance. The killing was graphically described in detail. My committee and I wondered if we should do something about it. In the end, we called the mother and told her about her daughter’s story. The mother was surprised but assured us there was nothing wrong in the household. At that point I suppose I could have called child services, but I felt the mother was forthcoming and without guile, and my instinct was to drop it.

I decided that if every kid that wrote a piece of bloody fiction in future was aware that his or her writing would result in an invasion of the state into the household, with who knows what results, it was better to assume that the kid was just a brilliant writer. Which she was. She actually won first prize and read it aloud at the launch, to her mother’s embarrassment but also – since she had a sense of humour – her delight in the irony of the situation. The girl went on to win a Rhodes scholarship and is now a doctor with a beautiful family. I have to wonder how upsetting and guilt-making it would have been for that girl if the CAS had become involved in her act of creativity.

The teacher’s instinct should have been to contact the mother and explain that she felt uneasy. The mother would have laughed and explained it was a toy gun the kid was describing. End of story. We have been so trained to believe that we have to involve Dear Government Agency in every aspect of our professional lives if we are the slightest bit unsure of what to say or do. And we have all been turned into such alarmists that we don’t think rationally about what the odds are for the kind of harm the teacher envisioned. If the mother’s reaction elicited suspicion, then it might have been more rational to inquire more deeply. Even a simple conversation with the child probably would have elicited the correct info

Lorne Gunter in Edmonton: The reactions by all three institutional actors – the school, social services and the police – were all way over the top, so much so that it calls into question their ability to make such judgment calls. If you can’t distinguish a minor threat to safety (or, in this case, no threat at all) from a major menace, then you’re just as likely to underreact to a serious threat as you are to overreact to an insignificant one. And underreacting is more likely to result in serious harm.

But what’s more disturbing is the unwillingness of anyone in authority to admit a mistake and take the rap. That calls into question the wisdom of entrusting any of them with such power over parents and other citizens in the first place.

The police have kinda, sorta apologized. And they claim to have launched a “thorough review” of their officers’ actions. But they are still not admitting they overreacted, either. In fact Regional Police Chief Matt Torigian keeps insisting that he and his officers were right to err on the side of child safety.

Neither the school nor the school board is giving any indication of backing down, either. But the worst butt-coverers are the child service’s agents. Alison Scott, executive director of Family and Child Services in the Waterloo region sniffed to the QMI Agency, “I am really sorry that the family is as upset as they are, but we followed proper standards and procedures. I do not see any need for our agency to apologize for fulfilling our mandated responsibility.” Really!? Your procedures call on you to take the word of a four-year-old and a junior kindergarten teacher over that of a parent and call in police immediately, without further investigation or even a call to the parents to ask their side?

What is enraging about this is how Ms. Scott fails to see how despicable it is treat someone like a criminal without any evidence at all. (The innocent words of a four-year-old and the hysterical misapprehensions of kindergarten teacher don’t qualify as evidence.) Jessie Sansone went to his kids’ elementary school last Wednesday to pick them up and ended up charged with possession of a gun (he doesn’t own one). He was meet by three police officers who ‘cuffed in front of everyone before even questioning him. He was pushed into the backseat of a cruiser, driven to the station, questioned for hours, had his kids taken into protective custody and his home subjected to an hours-long search, all before he had a chance to give his side of the story.

That sort of overreaction is unconscionable in a democracy – and unforgivable. If it can be allowed to happen to Mr. Sansone without state actors being forced to give sincere apologies, then it can happen to anyone.

Marni Soupcoff in Toronto: The strangest part to me is that even in the kid’s made-up drawing, the father was being portrayed as a protective, heroic figure. So why would that sound any alarms? If you’re going to inappropriately read things in to young children’s fantasies, at least respect the spirit of those fantasies. This one was saying, “Dad’s a good guy who keeps away monsters.”

If fictional Dad had been shooting at kids or puppies or, you know, mom, then maybe I could begin to understand what happened here. As it stands, I’ve got to agree with Lorne that the school, child services and the police have all shown themselves to have very questionable judgment.

And I have to wonder: Is cuffing the parent in front of the entire school a good idea even in cases of genuine concern for the kids’ safety? Won’t that further traumatize the children unnecessarily? And might it not discourage kids from coming forward with real problems in the future if they know the result could be their parents roughly taken down in front of all their peers?

Thankfully, I don’t think ridiculous institutional behavior like this is the norm. My son also happens to be a junior kindergarten student. To my embarrassment, his drawings consist almost exclusively of tanks and fighter jets. And his stories tend to focus obsessively on “bad guys.” But his teachers have never accused me or my husband of fostering violent tendencies — let alone of being a danger to our son. This is not just because our kid has so far refrained from drawing us at the weapons’ controls. It’s because his teachers are, like most primary teachers, sensible and sensitive. They understand that little kids make things up. All the time. And they understand when — and when not — to press the panic button.

None of that will be much consolation to Jessie Sansone, of course. He does deserve an apology.

The police, school and social services at fault here deserve something else entirely.

Matt Gurney in hiding: I guess I need to confess that during my early years, all my drawings were also of tanks, fighter jets, attack helicopters, and the like. Later, that expanded to include starships, which remain my primary doodle. I don’t have a lot to add to what I’ve said already, but I do feel it’s important to make one point explicitly clear. It’s bad enough that every agency involved — teachers, child-welfare agents and police officers — deny it’s their fault. What’s really scary is how each of them is acting like how they acted was necessary. The teacher says she’s obligated to inform child services whenever there is a sign there is a threat (so the original bad judgment was hers). Child services says they’re obligated to report any potential crime to the police. The police say they need to respond to reports of crimes (but there is certainly a range of options available to them, and the Chief has already conceded that strip searching isn’t normal procedure, so Waterloo’s finest have some ‘splainin’ to do). But the maddening thing about all of this is that even though every party has at least acknowledged that this is suboptimal, if we allow them to continue peddling the just-following-procedure nonsense, then this is guaranteed to repeat itself, given comparable circumstancecs. As Lorne quotes Ms. Scott as saying, so long as everyone sticks to their “standards and procedures”, this would keep happening. The only conclusion that can be drawn from that is that the standards and procedures — i.e.; the system — are broken.

Another small point to make: The original mistake, as I think we’d all agree, was the teacher’s overreaction, which in turn set off (and perhaps necessitated under the current rules) the follow-on reactions of the child-welfare officials and the police. But I’m not sure how we can get teachers to show better discretion. It’s not exactly something they test for during teacher’s college, and frankly, it’s hard to think of an occasion where a principal, school board official or union rep won’t go to the wall to defend a teacher who “put the child’s welfare first.” Plus, there’s also the ass-covering reflex. Whether to avoid accusations of negligence, or increasingly to avoid dealing with parents who treat reports of their child’s misbehaviour as personal assaults against their precious little one by evil educators, teachers just escalate any issue to that it’s not their problem. Call in the vice-principal or the school councillor. That way they’re on record as having sounded the alarm, and outraged parents become someone else’s problem. If anyone has any ideas how to turn that around short of public shaming, please share.

Barbara Kay: There seem to be different alarm bells for the CAS when the implied culprit is a mother. Yeah yeah, I know, I’m on my hobby horse.

All I can tell you is that I get stories all the time of how fathers beg and plead for the CAS to do something about crazy mothers but they won’t budge, yet let a father evoke even a smidgen of suspicion, as in this case (where as Marni points out he is not only not suspicious, he is portrayed as the good guy), and they’re all over the case. last week a father who was returning his son home after his access visit with him. He sent me a video he took of his child with a big bruise on his face crying and begging not to be sent home to his mother, because she scares him and hits him. I have a dozen letters from fathers who have handed over reams of proof that their children are being harmed by their mothers and the CAS does nothing at all.

Remember Elaine Campione who drowned her two little girls in a bathtub? The father fought like a tiger to get the kids away from this mentally disturbed mother. The CAS was well aware of Elaine Campione’s quixotic and alarming history. They knew that Campione had exhibited many signs of psychosis, that she had been hospitalized in psychiatric wards, believed people were out to kill her and kidnap her children, and exhibiting such bizarre and/or negligent behaviours toward her girls that mother-substitutes, including her own mother, had to be constantly parachuted into her household if it was to function at all. Yet the CAS decided the mother was the “safe parent” because she alleged (never-proven) abuse on the father’s part. There is a long list of the children who have died because the CAS would not take them away from women who were clearly a danger to them, and refused to believe it even when proof is in front of their eyes. That organization needs a mucking-out – big time.

So my question is: If the child had drawn a picture of a mother with a knife in her hand and even looking menacing, not protective, do you think the police would have cuffed the mother as she arrived at the school and taken her downtown and strip-searched her? I think not. If they did anything, it would be discreet, gentle and protective of her privacy.

Lorne Gunter: I think what we have here is a perfect storm of political correctness.

There is the zero-tolerance mentality that has pervaded our schools, especially our elementary schools. Policies requiring teachers and administrators to treat every act of violence or even just every tale of violence has robbed educators of their judgment, common sense and discernment. Remember the 8-year-old in Nova Scotia who was suspended for pointing a breaded chicken strip at a teacher and saying “Pow!”? Of the elementary school student who was suspended for having a plastic knife in her lunch box? The politically correct action is to suspend judgment and treat every gun incident as if it were the endtimes.

Then there is the general arrogance of child welfare workers coupled with their bigotry towards men and towards guns. Men are mostly violent according to the mindset of children’s aid workers, so guns are nothing more than tools of oppression used by violent men to enforce their will against their wives and children.

Police, too, have an anti-gun bias these days, especially police in Ontario who seem to lay a disproportionate number of gun-related charges. They lay them with equal enthusiasm against law-abiding gun owners defending their turf or their lives and drug dealers enforcing their territories.

And in this case, there is probably an hysterical kindergarten teacher who is anti-gun, anti-male or anti-Evangelical, or all three. Jessie Sansone and his family quite devote according to reports. It’s not hard to believe a politically correct teacher seeing man, Christian and gun together in the same person jumped immediately to the conclusion that he must be guilty.

But perfect storm or not, almost no action by the authorities in this case was acceptable.

Marni Soupcoff: I thought we’d gotten beyond this sort of overreaction after the spate of unjust child-abuse accusations and convictions in the ‘80s. There is, we were supposed to have learned, a need for actual evidence and due process — even where vulnerable children are potential victims. I guess Columbine helped erase some of those lessons. But wasn’t all the zero tolerance stuff supposed to be focused on the kids themselves? Which maybe made it slightly more palatable since kids were never afforded full levels of due process anyway? And the worst that could happen to them was being suspended from school? The idea that zero tolerance can be extended to adult parents and used as a reason to cuff them and forcibly confine them is a real problem.

Men may have it worse than women, but no parent is safe if children can be seized on such flimsy grounds.

The police? Let’s just say that if this is how they treat a stable and established citizen with the ability to articulate his story to the media, God help the sketchy homeless guy or rambling drug addict who rubs them the wrong way.

And the worst part is that no one involved seems to be any the wiser for this mess. Jessie Sansone will presumably be left alone in the future. It’s not hard to imagine, however, that the police and child services will strike again with another unfortunate family since there have been no admissions of mistakes made.

Pretty scary stuff.

Source: National Post

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