Connecticut Middle Schooler Investigated by State Police for “Death Note” List

deathnoteA seventh grader in Griswold, Connecticut is suspended from school and under investigation by state police after he was found to have compiled a list of classmates in a “death note” booklet inspired by the manga and anime series. Although the boy is suspended through the end of the school year and there is no evidence that he actually had plans to kill anyone, some parents feel that the school did not notify them quickly enough and should now be taking extra steps to ensure security.

In the fictional Death Note, main character Light Yagami finds a notebook that causes the death of anyone whose name is written in it. Anime News Network counts at least nine incidents over the past eight years where U.S. students ranging from elementary to high school were disciplined, suspended, expelled, or arrested after “death notes” were found in their possession. The manga series was challenged by a parent at an Albuquerque high school in 2010, but retained by unanimous vote of a review committee.

Local media reporting on the Griswold story have mostly glossed over or ignored the manga/anime connection, with at least two TV news stations simply calling the student’s notebook a “hit list.” A third station at least included Superintendent Paul Smith’s description of “a booklet based on an anime cartoon,” while the Norwich Bulletin newspaper even went so far as to describe the plot basics and explain what manga are.

According to NBC Connecticut, school officials said that “the student is being disciplined in accordance with school board policy and depending on the findings of the police investigation.” The school year ends this Friday and he will not be returning before then, they added.

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Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.