6-Year-Old Boy Sent to Court in North Carolina for Picking a Tulip (UPDATE)

The case, and many others like it, is being pointed to as an example of how juvenile cases should be reassessed to better protect all children.


Image via Getty/Witthaya Prasongsin


UPDATED 3/25, 1:05 p.m. ET: The group Black Men With Gardens wants to build the boy a garden. “Please share & help us get ahold of his parents so we can make sure he gets the best garden in town!” the group wrote on Instagram.

Check out Black Men With Garden’s post below. 

See original story below.​​​​​​​

A recent report out of North Carolina is receiving national attention for spotlighting a case revolving around a six-year-old boy who was forced to appear in court for allegedly picking a tulip from a yard at his bus stop.

The piece in question, penned by Virginia Bridges for the Herald-Sun and released earlier this month, opens with a description of the six-year-old as his legs “dangled” above the floor as he sat with his attorney, Julie Boyer, while on trial in juvenile court on an allegation of injury to real property in connection with the aforementioned picked tulip. As Boyer explained in the report, she gave the young boy a coloring book and crayons and told him to “color a picture” during proceedings.

when a 6-year old is dragged to court for picking a tulip

read the North Carolina story: https://t.co/O05a87Q9Eh pic.twitter.com/8i9INMNRxl

— Taniel (@Taniel) March 18, 2021

The mother of the 6-year-old wasn’t able to attend an intake meeting, per the report, which—per regional law—meant he ended up going before a judge himself. A judge dismissed the case when he was informed of the situation.

Bridges’ damning report also notes that—between 2015 and 2018—nearly 7,300 complaints were filed against children between the ages of 6 and 11. And of those complaints, 47 percent were against Black children, despite the fact that just 22 percent of the state’s population is Black, while 70 percent is white.

Thankfully, many social justice groups and other organizations—the National Juvenile Justice Network chief among them—are pushing hard for the age for juvenile proceedings (like the one that forced a 6-year-old boy to appear before a judge) to be raised.

Back in January, the National Juvenile Justice Network called on all states to set what they say is “a reasonable minimum age” when prosecuting children, specifically recommending that the age go no lower than 14.

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