June 6 2013
Getting Suspended for Chewing a Pop Tart the Wrong Way?
Patrice J. Lee
Since when did it become a crime for little boys (and girls) to dream of a career defending their country and carrying a weapon? Apparently, it is now thanks to the zealous, overreactions of school administrators across Maryland.
A seven-year-old in Anne Arundel was suspended after he chewed his pop tart into a gun (following a failed attempt at making a mountain) and said “bang.” A five-year-old boy in Calvert County racked up five days of suspension for stowing a toy cap gun in his backpack. At least a Silver Spring six-year-old boy was allowed back into school earlier this year after pointing his "loaded" finger at a classmate and saying “pow.”
And we’re now learning that an eleven-year-old budding Navy SEAL was put on a ten-day suspension after he shared with friends on a school bus he wished he had been armed during the Sandy Hook Shooting to take out the bad guys. The family was threatened with the prospect of having their house searched.
If the punishments stand, these children face having stains on their records.
What’s most troubling is the fear school administrators are planting in the impressionable minds and hearts of young Americans. Mentioning the word “gun” or incorporating them into their playful imagination represents punishable behavior. Whether it is part of an ingenious plan to shift the opinions of future generations against firearms, or just bone-headed reactionary policies aimed at heading off future lawsuits, we should be concerned.
Here’s the kicker, even the ACLU –which I find little agreement with– is coming out against these “knee-jerk” reactions. Commenting on these cases a staff attorney noted:
Across the board, we are concerned about practices where we have these sort of knee-jerk reactions without really stopping to think and use our common sense about whether what a kid is doing or saying actually presents any sort of concern for the safety and well-being of others.
So banning cowboys and Indians –what some might say uses racist terms and imperialist undertones– is just silly.
Guns have secured the autonomy, freedom and unity of our nation. Instead of portraying them as intrinsically evil, why not explain to our children the help and harm guns can do? Instead of banning the use of the word “gun,” why not understand the context in which it was use and turn it into a “teaching moment?”
Our children should know that the U.S. Constitution preserves the right of Americans to possess and use guns.
It’s not unreasonable for school administrators to be more alert in identifying situations that could lead to the mass school shootings that unfortunately, we’ve come to see as routine.
What’s not reasonable is inciting fear in the hearts of our children and punishing innocent children unjustly.