Talk about an over-reaction! A 6-year-old boy has been suspended from school for pointing his finger like a gun and saying "pow" to another student. The Maryland first grader
is unlucky enough to have gotten caught up in the mass anxiety that's
swept American school districts in the wake of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Let's just set aside the debate over kids and gun play for a second, shall we? Unfortunately, his school record
isn't going to reflect the national distress at the exact moment of his
little mishap. Instead we have a 6-year-old whose minor transgression
will follow him for the rest of his school career. Is that really fair?
The child's family is fighting to have this little guy's suspension expunged from his record, and I can't help but agree with them. Because let's face it, this was pretty minor. This kid used his FINGERS in the shape of a gun! He didn't bring a real gun to school.
What's more, he's only 6. He's at an age when adult supervision is a
must, when kids' brains are still so underdeveloped that something as
simple as tying their own shoes is often a challenge. And we expect them
to think out the repercussions of pointing their fingers at a pal right after a mass school shooting?
I don't think so.
We have put school administrators in a tough spot in America. We
expect them to come down hard on kids who act up. We want to strike out
bullying, end school violence. We mean well, but we're hurting our kids.
Six-year-olds are suspended for pointing their fingers. Six-year-olds are haunted forever by actions done when they were SIX!
It's as this 6-year-old's attorney pointed out to the Washington Post:
They took the worst possible interpretation of this little child’s
actions, and five years from now, if he gets into a tussle, they’re
going to look back and say, ‘This is one bad little kid.'
We need to strike a balance here. Can't we hold little kids
accountable for their actions without forcing them to pay for being
young and immature forever? Can't we hold off on the hardcore
punishments, on marking the "permanent" record until they're old enough
to actually understand what they're doing?
Do you think it's right to brand this 6-year-old for
something so silly? Should transgressions for kids this young go on
About 12 years ago, a handful of kindergarteners in my hometown were suspended for playing cops and robbers at recess. This sort of punishment is going overboard for these incidents. I understand the need for zero tolerance policies, but the punishment needs to fit the crime. We are no longer allowed to discipline children at home or school out of fear of humiliating them and breaking their spirit so now they just kick them out of school for a few days. It makes no sense. When I was a kid if you broke a rule, like the child in the post did, you might have to spend recess clapping the chalk dust from erasers or writing I will not do.... On the blackboard 100 times or something. That had more of an impact than a free day from school anyway. A six yr old doesn't really comprehend suspension so the whole thing is just unnecessary.