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Friday, January 06, 2006


I Have A Gun

A second grader at a nearby school was suspended indefinitely for saying that he had a gun. As the father of a second grader, I'm keenly aware of the type of fantasy play that boys this age like to engage in. My son spends most of his recess playing some sort of "war" game, usually a Star Wars scenario. He and his friends battle each other as dark lords, separatists, clone troopers, and jedi knights. It's just play. And the duties on the playground understand this.

So it makes me wonder what it was about a 7 or 8-year-old boy saying "I have a gun" that would cause school officials to suspend him for a couple of days. My own son is so rarely dead serious that I have trouble believing that this boy in question would make such statements that would have teachers and students shaking in their shoes. And suspension? For a second grader? Seems a bit of an overkill.

I've spent time in my son's class, and there's not one kid out of 24 that looks or sounds like a threat. They're all still at that goofy-silly stage where they just want to play and have fun and be kids. I don't doubt that some of them have parents who don't care enough to teach them what words are inappropriate for the playground... I'm telling my kids all the time "There's a time for silly and a time for serious." Plus, I've explained to my son that teachers and principals don't know him like I do, so he can't run around talking about guns, blasters, bombs, and missiles. In this day and age, it only takes one nervous adult to view an imaginative child as some kind of tiny terrorist.


Blogger Bre said...

But what if you had some crack head parents who had a gun in the house and their son saw daddy talk about how he's gunna put a cap in someones ass while he's waving his gun around and then the boy gets sick of little billy always "shooting" him during their game of star wars so he thinks if he brings daddys gun to school he can really show up little Billy. Don't think that's never going to happen, it can and probably already has. Unfortunatly it sucks that we have to be so over protective of the good little boys who are just playing, but they should investigate the situation then punish accordingly or if they punish harshly first, then investigate, then maybe change the punishment to fit the crime.

4:25 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I'm kind of torn on this issue. I remember about 2 years ago when a child in the preschool class I was working in told another child that he was going to cut him open with his knife. The child then ran to his backpack and pulled out a real knife. So, given my experience--I tend to take things like that seriously and investigate them. Suspending the second grader might was, in my opinion, overkill--but given everything that has gone on in the last few years, I can see why certain adults can run before they walk on issues like this.

8:55 PM  
Blogger Bay Views said...

Counceling, not suspension is needed here. I am 67 years old, and can still remember during my school years that suspension was the weapon of choice.

It was wrong then, it's wrong now. If a classroom teacher is unable to control his/her class with 8 year olds, without panicing, I suggest that the teacher is in the wrong profession.

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Phil & All

I appreciate your thoughts on this subject. I'm writing as a third grade teacher. I know that I work real hard to shield parents that help in my room from a lot of the information I have about my students. following is a commnent I published in DFO's blog earlier. I'm putting it here to add to the discussion and because I'm really curious about your thoughts as well as other's.

Arpie - up in Sandpoint

I’m writing this from school where my third grade class just went home for the weekend. I think there are too many things that we don’t know and probably don’t need to know, about the situation to have any kind of intelligent discussion as to whether the steps taken were appropriate or not. That being said every elementary class in the state probably has a kid or two that if they were to make a comment like “I have a gun,” suspending the student would be the appropriate amount of tooth rattling needed to reinforce the idea that this is not an okay thing to say in school. Not knowing the situation, I am not about to second guess the teacher and the principal for the decision made, and instead trust that they are erring on the side of caution. A fifteen year old, who is a former student in my school, was just arrested for burglary, where he bound the people and threatened them with a gun. No one on our staff was surprised by this. These kids exist. They are part of our community.

9:30 PM  
Anonymous BackwoodsBob said...

It's been awhile since I was an eight or nine year old boy in second grade, but I am pretty sure I was playing with little green army men, GI Joe dolls, and Lincoln Logs.

I am pretty sure that nothing I did or said could have been taken as a serious threat to an adult.

I was still at an age when if a figure of athority, whether teacher or parent, looked at me seriously or used a stern tone of voice while shaming me for something as minor as heisting a cookie without permission, I would fall apart.

Children at that age have great imaginations, giving them the ability to move into thier newly created sand-castle.

It is a shame when adults have become so serious about life, that they become blind to imagination, creativity, and play.

Supressing any of these qualities in a child, should be a more serious crime than a second grader saying, "I have a gun."

Well, before I start ranting... I only have two more words:
Home School.

5:14 AM  
Anonymous brettdl said...

It's sad that we even have to have this discussion. It just illustrates what a mess our society has become.

7:43 AM  
Blogger stebbijo said...

It won't be too much longer down the road and that kid might be victimized for saying,"I have a blog."

6:23 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Just so you know Phil,
I've taken the liberty, based on the title of this post, to notify the Department of Homeland Security.
If there's a black sedan in front of your house, I wouldn't be shocked.

7:25 AM  

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