A middle school student was suspended not for bringing a bomb to school, or even mentioning anything close to a real bomb, but for drawing a cartoonish picture of a bomb on a piece of notebook paper. The suspended individual, Rhett Parham, is an autistic special needs student at South Carolina’s Hillcrest Middle School.
Parham’s mother Amy was upset by her son’s suspension, explaining that the drawing was not intended to be violent at all. Instead, it was inspired by the video game Bomber Man, which her son enjoys. Rhett had completed the drawing at home over the weekend and was taking it to school to show his friends. After showing several other students at the school, the drawing was eventually brought to the attention of school administrators, who believed it was enough justification for a suspension, and Rhett was forced to go home.
According to Amy Parham, however, administrators even acknowledged that they knew her son meant no ill harm from the drawing.
“They actually reiterated to me they knew he was non-violent. They knew he was not actually having a bomb, creating or making a bomb. But that they could not go with out making an example of him and take some type of action because they were worried about their perception. Perception is actually the word he used. Perception is reality, and parents might think you have a bomb or [might be] violent,” Parham said to WHNS-TV.
Rhett drew the type of bomb that is commonly seen in children’s cartoons, video games and other forms of media, not the kind that is actually built in order to cause destruction. Bomber Man, the harmless game that inspired this drawing, is full of similar images. Kids draw things like this and share the drawings with each other all the time, but the middle school was apparently concerned with the ways in which other parents might perceive a school’s lack of response to a children bringing a drawing to school that even somewhat hints at being violent.