I’m not sure that this has all that much to do with the current gun hysteria that’s sweeping the media, but it’s a pretty good demonstration of gun hysteria in general, and the vapidity of “zero tolerance” policies, too. For the second time in recent weeks, a Maryland school has reversed a suspension of an elementary-school child pointing a “gun” at his classmates …. which consisted of his finger:
Is it child’s play or a serious threat of gun violence? For the second time in less than a month, a Maryland child is kicked out of school for using his finger in the shape of a gun.
If you have to ask that question, you shouldn’t be in charge of children at all. Kids have been playing cops and robbers with this gesture since before any of us were around, and I think I can fairly estimate the number of injuries and deaths from finger shootings at zero.
Is this kind of play inappropriate at school? That’s debatable in either direction, but even if it is, then the appropriate response is a time-out or cleaning some erasers, with a parental conference if the issue persists. Instead, we get the typical “zero tolerance” response to supposed violent behavior, which is designed only to protect administrators from having to exercise normal judgment in all possible situations. That seems to be a rather persistent problem in Maryland:
The number of suspensions has been on the rise in Maryland. School leaders say they will try to reduce those numbers.
Maybe it would help to stop freaking out every time kids play, or find people with more experience at it to be the adults in charge.