UK Teachers Report 4 Year Old Boy To The Terrorism Police For Drawing A Cucumber

from the what-a-pickle dept

The unintended but entirely predictable consequences from the UK's disastrous Counter-Terrorism and Security Act keep on a-coming. You will recall that this handy piece of legislation tasked teachers with weeding out possible future-terrorists amongst the young folks they are supposed to be teaching. This has devolved instead into teachers reporting children, usually children that would be peripherally identified as Muslim children, to the authorities for what aren't so much as transgressions as they are kids being kids. It has even turned some teachers into literal grammar police, because the universe is not without a sense of humor.

And now we learn that these part-teacher-part-security-agents may be incorporating art criticism into their repertoire, having reported a young Muslim boy of four years old to the authorities because of his inability to properly illustrate a cucumber.

Concerns were raised after the youngster drew a picture of a man cutting the vegetable. [The child's mother] said she feared her children would be taken away from her and added: 'But I haven't done anything wrong... It was a horrible day." Teachers and public service workers have a legal obligation to report any concerns of extremist behaviour to the authorities since July.
And here is the picture the child drew of himself cutting a cucumber.

Now, if we hold our nose and choose to forget for a moment that this is a four year old we're talking about, and not the re-animated corpse of Vincent Van Gogh, we might all agree that the picture on the left looks like a person holding a giant freaking sword, instead of a kitchen knife. The picture on the right will look like pretty much anything you want it to look like because, again, this is a four year old toddler we're talking about. So, it appears the teachers asked the child what he was attempting to draw in the picture, and the response would have been benign, except it hit one of the terrorism buzz-words, kinda sorta.

Staff in Luton told the child's mother they believed he was saying "cooker bomb" instead of "cucumber".

"[The member of staff] kept saying it was this one picture of the man cutting the cucumber....which she said to me is a 'cooker bomb', and I was baffled," she told the BBC Asian Network.
So the child, in addition to being unable to draw a cucumber sufficiently to get teachers to understand the portrayal he was attempting, also wasn't able to properly pronounce the word cucumber, and it apparently came out of his mouth close enough to "cooker bomb" for the nursery staff to freak out and into the de-radicalization program the child goes. I can't stress enough that this child is four years old.

Nor that the staff's interpretations here don't make any sense. So they believed the child was saying he was sawing into a cooker bomb with a death-sword? And that's a more plausible scenario than the staff concluding that this toddler was doing something completely innocent and wasn't articulating properly?

One wonders, as always, just how much leeway would have been afforded the boy if he had pale skin and blue eyes.

Filed Under: 4 year old, children, cucumber, drawing, pre-school, security, terrorism, uk

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Mar 2016 @ 10:51am

    Oh look the dial is turned well past 11.
    Once upon a time if a teacher didn't understand what a child said, they would try to work out what was said instead of hearing the worst possible thing they imagine and run sprinting away to seek authorities. One can fault the teacher some, but we must also hold society at fault for making teachers first responders to anything bad.

    If you see something say something!!! Do not consider if it is just your imagination reading much more into it, it has to be bad.
    Brown man with a camera taking pictures - terrorist scouting next target.
    Brown man on a plane speaking all foriegn - terrorists plotting to down the plane.
    Brown man buying cooking utensils - terrorist bomb maker.

    It is up to you to keep everyone safe. The media will crucify you if this turns out to be a dirty bomb & not just a child with a teddy bear. You citizen have to be vigilant for the motherland, else it will be all your fault.

    If you can imagine it must be terrorism, it has to be treated as terrorism. We have the ability to imagine worst case scenarios, and operate from those things being absolutely possible.
    It wasn't powered sugar from a doughnut on the counter, someone (probably that brown guy) was mixing up anthrax in the kitchenette.
    It wasn't spending time with his visiting family, it was evil plots from people who aren't native english speakers (those dirty bastard should learn our language if they want to be here!!).

    We fear things that are different, because we demand everyone be just like us. We can not imagine things happening to people that aren't like how we experience them. If they are different, they must be bad. These other people who look like them did bad things, so all of them do bad things.

    Perhaps passing laws demanding that people stop thinking & report things isn't the right way to do things. If the teacher had taken the time to work out the child was trying to say cucumber, but an assistant was still sure it was cooker bomb & reported it all hell would break loose on the teacher. To protect ourselves we have to throw others under the bus, else the media breathlessly report US as being terrorist sympathizers destroying our lives.

    But hey at least we are safer. We've not taught a 4 yr old to not speak up or imagine. We've taught a community of our neighbors to be afraid of offending someone. We've taught them that we don't trust them, not for anything THEY have done but because we see the easily identified checkboxes - not the people.

    Contrast that with how we don't fear and report every white HS student, despite the terror caused by school shooters. We don't suspect every church going person despite those religious zealots who bomb clinics & assassinate doctors.
    But we manage to do it to those who don't look like us.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.