2nd Graders Suspended For “Shooting” Each Other With Pencils

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.

From cbslocal.com:

“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


Crystal Harrison
Crystal Harrison4 years ago

This is idiotic and carrying political correctness and "zero tolerance" to an absurd extreme. Kids will be kids. They are not allowed to play anymore because that is all they were doing. :(

Mark Donners
Mark Donner4 years ago

If a kid is pyschotic he won't play. It's a sign of a healthy kid if he can use his imagination by playing with toys. But imagination is a threat to stupid adults in a failed educational system.

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal4 years ago

As children we played cowboys and Indians, and war. Over reaction to tragedies.....

Christina B.
Christina B4 years ago

I am surprised that Ms. Molland makes no comment whatsoever on what makes her toddler son use his banana as a weapon. Playing "war" should not be encouraged and although the suspension was a harsh decision, I can see the logic behind it.

However, if the schools want their "zero tolerance" policy to be fruitful, they need to make sure the children understand why it is not OK to pretend playing with guns. Unless the parents REALLY help out on this one, though, I suspect that all will be for naught.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown4 years ago

Oh c'mon Shannon, I usually enjoy your comments but I have to disagree with you here. You said "being a Marine is not a game"? Haven't you ever heard of playing "army"?

This idiot schools basically said PLAYING violated the "zero-tolerance policy on weapons." But there were no weapons, just pencils and kids amazing capacity for fantasy and play.

This is both idiotic and overreaching. I can remember making "phasers" out of sheets of paper and playing "Star Trek" during recess when I was a little kid. I guess that our paper "phasers" would violate the "zero tolerance on weapons"?

Zero tolerance policies are always inane and destructive because they remove the role of logic and common sense in making decisions.

Shannon Moody
Shannon Moody4 years ago

On another note, not wanting to alienate my care2 supporters, I don't know the entire story, either. If the little boy is a known trouble-maker, he's marked in the system for the remainder of his school career. Was he being disruptive? Were they aware of the zero-tolerance policy of the school. Maybe suspension was a little harsh for a first-time offense, but, again, it's school policy. There are so many angles and opinions to take on this, and please everybody, note, I did read all of your comments, which many were thought provoking, both for and against, and it's cool to see everybody's opinions and how they vary.

Shannon Moody
Shannon Moody4 years ago

Bet they won't do it again though. Zero-tolerance is zero-tolerance. I think the problem is kids need to discern (or be taught) reality and fantasy. Guns aren't toys, shooting people is wrong. Being a marine is not a game, and his father, being a marine, needs to educate his child to this fact. Video games are fantasy. When I was a kid, we played with water guns, but we were taught that "guns" are not toys. Mind you, that was back in the generation where they did teach us lessons. With the amount of senseless accidental killings, it's about time zero-tolerance was recognized for what it is - zero-tolerance. No gray linings, as we see all too often with other zero-tolerance policies, such as school bullying...schools state they have zero-tolerance, but they don't, nobody ever follows through with it. I'm sorry all, but I agree with the school.

Scott haakon
Scott haakon4 years ago

zero-tolerance,political correctness, are the culprits. Time for common sense to return. As far as the idea that some people feel threatened tough deal with it yourselves by being educated. The Urban population is so far removed from reality that a lot of ignorance passes for truth. perhaps it would be good to send the urban children out to do farming and ranching for a year. So they know where their food comes from.

Marianne Good
Past Member 4 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Terry V.
Terry V4 years ago

noted :(