Earlier this month, Care2 brought you the story of Keira Wilmot, the 16-year-old who was arrested and kicked out of her Florida school after a failed science experiment.
Now comes a similar tale of completely inappropriate behavior by school officials, this time in Virginia.
Two second graders were suspended from elementary school on May 3 for making noises resembling a machine gun while pointing pencils at each other.
One of the boys, Christopher Marshall, said he was just pretending to be a Marine like his father, but the school’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on weapons still called for his punishment.
The seven-year-old boys in Suffolk, Virginia, were suspended from Driver Elementary School for two days for a violation of the school system’s zero-tolerance policy on weapons.
“When I asked him about it, he said, ‘Well I was being a Marine and the other guy was being a bad guy,’ said Paul Marshall, one of the boys’ fathers. “It’s as simple as that.”
From Fox43, here’s how Suffolk Public Schools spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw reacted: “A pencil is a weapon when it’s pointed at someone in a threatening way, and gun noises were made.”
Really? It makes sense that these youngsters need to understand that pointing a pencil at someone and pretending to shoot can make other kids nervous, and so is definitely not appropriate classroom behavior these days.
But suspending these seven-year-olds for two days is way beyond what this behavior merits; it’s yet another example of a zero-tolerance policy gone crazy. Remember the second grader who made a ‘gun’ out of his breakfast pastry? Or the seventh grader who was suspended for touching an Adderall pill? You get the idea.
As a mother, I prohibited any toy guns in the house. That didn’t stop my toddler-son from grabbing his breakfast banana and turning it into a gun every morning. I was annoyed, but it never crossed my mind that I should consider his behavior cause for alarm.
Suffolk School officials disagree.
“Some children would consider it threatening, who are scared about shootings in schools or shootings in the community,” Bradshaw told Fox43. “Kids don’t think about “Cowboys and Indians” anymore, they think about drive-by shootings and murders and everything they see on television every day.”
The school spokeswoman went on to explain that the policy, which also bans drawing a picture of a gun and pointing a finger in a threatening manner, has been in place for at least two decades.
Nevertheless, Christopher’s father believes school authorities have taken this too far. He points out that his son has good grades, no history of bad behavior and that he stopped “shooting” when he was told to.
Shouldn’t schools be focused on creating a safe environment, rather than picking on second graders? Kids express their world, and their anxieties, through play. Christopher’s father is a soldier in a protracted war, and the child was acting out that reality.
School administrators, please stop, think and use common sense instead of over-reacting to a child’s play.
What do you think?
Photo Credit: Fox43 online video