School suspends five-year-old boy for making a terrorist threat

Manuela Cardiga
Apr 12, 2018
11:03 A.M.
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A five-year-old's vivid imagination triggers a bomb-scare.


A five-year-old was suspended from his kindergarten class at Great Valley Academy in Modesto California when his teacher reported him for making a bomb threat, reported on the 29th of December 2017.

Jackson Riley, 5, was in his third week of kindergarten and he started the whole crisis by refusing to take off his backpack one morning.

His teacher remonstrated with him, and Jackson told her the reason he would not take it off was because he had a bomb in his pack.

The teacher searched his backpack and found nothing out of the ordinary, but Jackson was suspended. Is a child's vivid imagination a deadly weapon, or potentially harmful to others?


“He said he couldn’t take his backpack off because it would explode, meaning he doesn’t want anybody to get hurt, so I mean, granted, it’s all in the world of pretend-play, and we’re talking about an imaginary bomb.”

Michelle Riley, Shared.com29th of December 2017.

Well, the teacher found nothing. But it's what Jackson told her was in the bag that prompted his suspension. The imaginative kid told his teacher there was a bomb in his bag, and that if he took it off, the bomb would explode.

Jackson’s mother, Michelle Riley felt the reaction to the whole incident was bizarre and ridiculously disproportionate. She explained that it was all pretend-play, and an imaginary bomb, not a conscious threat, or anything even remotely similar.


Ian Riley, Jackson's father, described his 5-year-old son as having a vivid imagination. According to him, Jackson refused to remove the 'bomb' because he was trying to be the hero, save his little friends.  

The school suspended little Jackson for being "intentionally engaged in harassment, threats or intimidation." Those were the terms used in a letter sent to all parents after the incident.


The school later amended Jackson's permanent school record to say he "made terrorist threats to school officials." Jackson will carry this stain on his record for life.

In twenty years time, if he applies for a government job, he will be flagged as a potential terrorist, explain the outraged parents. This will label him for life. 

Curiously enough, the adolescents who did shoot children in the latest atrocities at American high schools had been reported as possible threats to school and government authorities, to no avail; yet a five-year-old in a backpack telling a fib became a nationwide 'federal case.'