If you have a child in school, you have my deepest sympathy. I don’t know how you survive the anxiety over the dangers your child faces on a daily basis.
I’m not talking about school shootings. Mass shootings at schools are so rare that your child is more likely to be struck by lightning while playing outdoors than to be shot at school. Children are many times more likely to be killed in traffic accidents while commuting to and from school than they are to become gunshot victims while at school.
What ought to worry parents of school-aged children is the mind-boggling volume of sheer idiocy displayed by so many of the adults who have been given the task of educating the next generation. A few recent examples:
A second grader at Larkmoor Elementary School in Lorain, Ohio was suspended after he brought two toy guns to school. According to the report, “The weapons were found in the student’s book bag.” Weapons, mind you. Not toys. Weapons.
A five year old in Hyannis, Massachusetts was threatened with suspension for “using daycare toys inappropriately” after he made a gun out of Legos and “simulated the sound of gunfire.”
A kindergartener in Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania received a ten-day suspension (later shortened to two days) because she told her friend she was going to shoot her with her pink Hello Kitty Bubble Gun. The perp was forced to undergo a psychological evaluation to determine whether or not she was dangerous before she was allowed to rejoin her class.
Two first graders in Trappe, Maryland were suspended for playing cops and robbers during recess. The boys were making imaginary guns with their fingers, and some busybody saw them and ratted them out to the authorities.
A six year old in Silver Spring, Maryland was suspended for making a gun of his thumb and forefinger, pointing at another student, and saying “pow.”
In Tan Valley, Arizona, a high school freshman got a three-day suspension for having a picture of a gun as the desktop background on his computer.
In Philadelphia, a fifth grader was humiliated in front of her classmates for having brought a paper “gun” to school. I put “gun” in quotes because the item in question was just a rectangular sheet of white paper that had a square torn out of one corner, and it takes a prodigious imagination to look at something like that and see a gun. Melody Valentin had the piece of paper in her pocket, and when she went to throw it away, a classmate saw it and snitched on her. The teacher searched Melody (for what? paper bullets?) in the presence of her classmates, and berated her for having brought a “gun” to school.
An eight year old in Prince William County, Virginia was suspended after a friend pretended to shoot him with an imaginary bow and arrow, and the boy responded by pretending to shoot the friend with an imaginary gun. (The little boy with the imaginary bow and arrow was apparently not disciplined.)
In what might be the most ludicrous instance yet of overreaction on the part of the so-called adults who run our public schools, second grader Joshua Welch in Baltimore, Maryland was suspended for biting a Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun and saying “bang bang.” Not content with merely suspending the youthful terrorist, the authorities also sent a letter home to all parents whose children attend the school, informing them that “one of our students used food to make inappropriate gestures that disrupted the class,” and although “no physical threats were made and no one was harmed, the student had to be removed from the classroom.” The letter further urged parents to help their children “share their feelings” about the incident, and also advised them that the school counselor was available to help children who had been traumatized by the incident.
If I had a child in that school, I would tell him or her to go the counselor and claim to have been traumatized by the utter stupidity of the grownups running my school.
Some observers of this zero-tolerance policy for gun-shaped objects have suggested that perhaps authorities will want to ban the state of Florida, since it appears to be shaped like a gun:
Of course, so does the state of Idaho, if you rotate it 90 degrees , so they’d better ban it as well:
Some folks say enough already with the handguns, kids — if you’re going to get suspended anyway, you might as well go for broke:
But there is a faint glimmer of light amidst the darkness. A Maryland state senator has introduced legislation to protect children’s right to keep and bear Pop-Tarts (and Hello Kitty Bubble Guns). The Reasonable School Discipline Act would restrict the disciplinary options available to Maryland public school officials for dealing with a student found to be in possession of a picture of a gun, or of an object that might resemble a gun. Children could once again form their fingers into the shape of a gun without fear of reprisal. The bill would also mandate counseling for school officials who fail to distinguish between actual guns and things that merely look like guns. Officials who repeatedly fail to make such a distinction would face disciplinary action.
Common sense in government? And in Maryland? Wonders never cease.