A 7-year-old first grader is suspended and facing expulsion for coming to school with a toy gun in his backpack. A backpack his mother says she packed and that he was unaware had the toy in it. No one would have known the toy gun was there. But the boy knew it was against the rules and went to the authorities to tell them it was in his backpack so that he didn’t get in trouble. That didn’t work.
What we’re teaching kids now is… there is no grace in doing the right thing. Don’t speak up. Just keep quiet. Hide the wrong you did, even though it was an innocent mistake, maybe even something you had nothing to do with. Just keep quiet and continue breaking the rule, at least for that day, otherwise, you’ll be severely punished for a harmless infraction that you had no control over. Great lesson (said dripping with sarcasm).
This zero-tolerance gun and weapon policy has gone way past the point of ludicrous. I’m not saying guns or weapons should be allowed on campus. But now it’s gotten to the point where anything that might even remotely resemble a gun will get you suspended. And in this case, a toy gun.
I’m sorry, but that doesn’t even make sense. Wasn’t the whole point to prevent weapons from being brought to school? Isn’t this a “safety” issue? How does suspending kids for having a toy gun, for making a gun hand signal, for biting a Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun, and having a 3/4 inch GI Joe plastic gun keep kids safer?
What are we REALLY teaching our kids? We’re teaching them that the word “gun” is bad. That anything that might even be pretended to be a gun is bad. Guns are evil. Period.
We’ve gone from a society where the good guys carried guns to protect innocent people to a society where all guns are bad. Even the mere sight of something shaped like a gun strikes fear in the heart of school children who immediately signal the teacher to descend upon some poor little child who more often than not is simply using his/her imagination. Most of these cases are at elementary schools. None of them involve real guns. Is this really the road we want to go down?
Shouldn’t we be teaching children the positive uses for guns rather than simply instilling fear whenever they see one? Sure, they need to know the reality of bad guys using guns for the wrong reasons, but they should also know that guns can be used for good and there’s an appropriate time and place for that. It looks like they’re missing that lesson.
Oh, and school administrators… you really need to rethink that zero-tolerance policy. It’s time to exercise a little bit of common sense before suspending a child for making a gun gesture with their finger or suspending a kid for inadvertently having a toy gun in his backpack. Common sense, people. Let’s use it.
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Photo credit Brian