NJ boy put through psychiatric testing after ‘twirling pencil’ like a gun

Ethan Chaplin demonstrates how he twirled his pencil. (Source: New Jersey News 12)

UPDATE: State threatens to terminate parental rights (Below)

Ethan Chaplin demonstrates how he twirled his pencil.  (Source: New Jersey News 12)
Ethan Chaplin demonstrates how he twirled his pencil. (Source: New Jersey News 12)


VERNON, NJ — A 7th grader who “twirled a pencil” in a manner that someone thought resembled a gun was removed from math class and made to perform hours of psychiatric evaluation.

According to News 12 New Jersey, Ethan Chaplin apparently shared math class with a bully; the two had an ongoing dispute.  When bully witnessed Ethan Chaplin twisting a pen-cap over his pencil and yelled, “He’s making gun motions, send him to juvie.”

The mention of the word “gun” was evidently enough of a “red flag” to launch an investigation on Ethan.  He was put through 5 hours of psychiatric testing, where his mental state was evaluated to determine if he was a threat to other students.

He was also suspended from school.

While his son’s evaluation came up “clean,” Michael Chaplin is “absolutely livid.”  The father tried to discuss the incident with the school, he was dodged by administrators.  That changed when he went to the media.  He wrote:

Within 15 min of the camera crew showing up at the BOE building – the administrators who “were in meetings all day” and did not have time to see me” suddenly found their calendars clear and reached out to resolve the issue. FUNNY HOW THAT WORKS!

The absurdity of “zero tolerance” policies knows no bounds.  And the reactions generated by these compulsory government institutions is enough to cause an aversion to guns, discussing them, or exercising the right to own and carry them.  But that may be the underlying point all along.

We have seen overzealous punishment of children for similar things.  Two 7-year-old kids in Virginia were suspended for pointing pencils at each other.  Josh Welch, 8, was suspended when he bit a pastry into a shape resembling a gun.   A young girl was called a “murderer” and threatened to be arrested when a teacher saw her tear a piece of paper resembling a gun.  A 3-year-old deaf boy was told that the hand symbol for his name violates his school weapons policy and must be banned.  There are many more examples, and there are surely more yet to come.

View the interview with News 12:

UPDATE: State threatens to terminate parental rights

The ordeal seemed to behind the Chaplins after the school was satisfied that the pencil-twirling did not actually account for a threat. That is, until multiple state agencies began harassing the family and threatening to confiscate Ethan and put him into foster care.

Michael Chaplin subsequently received letters from New Jersey’s Department of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) and Department of Children and Families (DCF).

“I received a letter from them saying they had found an incident of abuse or neglect regarding Ethan because I refused to take him for psychological evaluation,” the father told PIX11.

As the local station reported, Mr. Chaplin did ultimately comply with further compulsory evaluations for his son. State social workers collected Ethan’s DNA and bodily fluids and ultimately could find no tangible evidence of any medical or behavioral problem.

However, as PIX11 reported, the State of New Jersey has ignored the first and second rounds of evaluations and is demanding even more. Mr. Chaplin has been threatened to lose custody of his son if he doesn’t subject him to ongoing mental health screening.

Twirling a pencil is not breaking the law. Neither is forgoing psych evaluations (if it were the case). Yet these agencies, and their counterparts across the country, don’t rely on laws. In the realm of child welfare in the USA, families are destroyed on a whim without any evidence or criminal conviction.

There are few police state tactics more insidious than the efforts to steal children from parents who not been charged nor found guilty of breaking any actual written laws.


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