You can't be too careful

At least, that's the opinion of the head teacher of Haybrook College in Slough, and apparently Thames Valley Police too. A teacher overhears a 15 year old ADHD sufferer with learning difficulties talking about "buying a gun" with a friend and calls the firearms squad:

Helen Huntley, headteacher of Haybrook College, which Millside is linked to, said: "We apologise if the boy's mother is upset. But we have a duty of care and, although there was no weapon, if we hadn't taken action and there had been, the consequences could have been devastating."
The boys in question were fans of playing the video game "Call of Duty" on their Xboxes, where as you gain more credits you can spend them on firearms of increasing potency.

Thames Valley police saw fit to obtain two warrants to search the boys' homes, descending on them with six officers and a dog and arresting both boys before releasing them without charge. It's nice that they have such resources on hand to waste on a pointless exercise. I'd also be fascinated to read the warrant applications, and compare them with the log of the original report from the school, though I'd bet they'll be locked away for decades to come in order to prevent embarrassment.

Is it too much to ask for teachers and police to exercise just the tiniest amount of common sense? A 15 year old boy with ADHD and learning difficulty is rather unlikely to be able to wander in to a gun shop, plonk down several thousand in cash and walk away with a high-powered rifle or assault weapon. Wouldn't it have been just a tiny bit easier, should concerns arise, to call the boy's mother and ask for some context to the conversation? Where was common sense in all of this? What the hell kind of society do we have where a laughably implausible possibility is considered sufficient to trigger an all-arms police raid on two houses without anyone asking if there's not a lower-key way to go about this?

Helen Huntley's "but we have a duty of care..." excuse was a pathetic, mealy-mouthed attempt to disguise a gross error of judgement by both the school and police, and they should both be strongly admonished for such abuse of the public trust in them. Now, had the boy been saying "I'm going to shoot (name of friend)", and had he come from an area where boys of that age were known to have access to guns and use them on other boys, a certain concern may have been understandable. As it was, though, the magic word "gun" seems to trigger a complete abandonment of common sense. This is not as bad as suspending a 7 year old from school for nibbling a Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun but it's on the path to that level of stupidity and dogma.

This is, by the way, not giving a free pass to the teen's mother; CoD games generally have an 18 rating, and for a good reason. Letting a 15 year old with ADHD play the game does not strike me as the finest bit of parenting.

[Hat tip: keen hunteress JuliaM]

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