We now send our kids to school in fear of whether they might forget all the new rules and slip up. They might pretend to be Transformers instead of Caillou (as if any kid would want to do the latter) and get landed in the office. They might eat their ham sandwiches in the wrong fashion and forget to ignore its uncanny resemblance to a particular item, earning them a suspension.

They might accidentally utter the word g-u-n within earshot of an eager-to-please tattle-tell, earning them an expulsion and a black mark on their file. There are so many ways to misstep and be labeled a threat that we start teaching our kids these rules as soon as they can talk.

If we want to restrict students from carrying weapons, that’s one thing. That ranks right up there with instituting other policies, such as banning cell phones and instituting dress codes, which limit distractions and foster healthier educational environments. But to broaden these policies so that anything may be classified as a weapon based solely on the subjective opinion of an administrator, where any mere mention of a weapon convicts a student outright (because we all know it’s always better to go straight to handcuffing a poor kid for his homemade clock that looks like a bomb), seems more like a move to cover administrative backsides and guard schools from liability than protect students from actual harm. If we truly wanted the latter, we’d be demanding and instituting policies based on evidence, not fear.