We worry about our children and how to keep them safe. We worry about their health so we have health classes that teach them proper decision making in eating and exercise. We teach them about drugs and how to avoid them. We worry about drinking so we teach them how to be responsible with alcohol. We worry about them getting in an accident, so we give them drivers education and spend time showing them the proper and safe ways to operate an automobile. We worry about their sex life, so we give them sex education and access to councilors, doctors and birth-control to ensure they make smart decisions. We worry about gun safety, so we create “gun-free” zones, where you can’t talk about, look at a picture of, or pretend to use a gun (real or fake) or you will be expelled… wait, what?!
There is a growing problem spreading across the country of teachers, principals and administrators completely freaking out about “weapons” in what can only be described as hysteria.
1- At D. Newlin Fell School in Philadelphia, school officials reportedly yelled at a student and then searched her in front of her class after she was found with a paper gun her grandfather had made for her.
2- In rural Pennsylvania, a kindergarten girl was suspended for making a “terroristic threat” after she told another girl that she planned to shoot her with a pink Hello Kitty toy gun that bombards targets with soapy bubbles.
3- At Roscoe R. Nix Elementary School in Maryland, a six-year-old boy was suspended for making the universal kid sign for a gun, pointing at another student with one finger out and his thumb up and saying “pow-pow.”
4- In Sumter, South Carolina, a six-year-old girl was expelled for bringing a broken clear plastic Airsoft gun that shoots plastic pellets to class for show-and-tell.
5- A 10-year-old boy at Doublas MacArthur Elementary was arrested after police said he brought a toy gun to school. He was charged as a juvenile with brandishing a weapon, suspended from school, and expulsion is being considered.
6- A 7-year-old boy at a Brooklyn Park, Maryland school was suspended for two days after he bit his donut into the shape of a gun and “made inappropriate gestures” with it. A letter was sent home to all parents to “let them know about the incident” and it said that there would be counselors available for any children who were “troubled” by the incident.
7- A 7-year-old at Mary Blair Elementary in Loveland, Colorado was suspended for playing by himself at recess and throwing an imaginary grenade at an imaginary group of bad guys and making a “pshhh” sound of the exploding imaginary grenade.
In most of these cases, sanity was restored only after the facts were reported to the public and lots of pressure was put on the school by the community and blogs/news organizations.
We have a responsibility to be vigilant in reporting and pressuring any teacher, principal, administrator, or school board member who thinks this type of witch-hunt is ok.
Some people feel safe with the zero tolerance policy of a "gun free" school. However, like all zero tolerance policies, the result is a complete failure. Children are attacked, belittled, embarrassed, punished and marginalized for completely normal or innocent behavior. If an educated adult can not distinguish between a real gun posing a real threat, and a fake gun or a picture of a gun or a food item in the shape of a gun posing zero threat and zero possibilities of a threat, then that adult does not deserve to be in any position of leadership or power.
All parents and all voters in every school district must take action to ensure that no student is punished simply because of the hypersensitivities of some misguided school official. We do not want a generation of Americans growing up believing that it is a crime against society to even think about a weapon or to see a picture of one.
Please share this information and contact your local school district to communicate your feeling on this absurd national trend. For those in this area, the Greenville County School Superintendent is W. Burke Royster. Telephone: 864-355-8860. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org