Is This Punishment Too Extreme?
Yet another little girl has been expelled from elementary school because she brought a toy gun to school. This time it happened at Alice Drive Elementary in Sumter, South Carolina, where six-year-old Naomi McKinney brought a small transparent plastic toy gun to school for a show and tell, causing her teachers to freak out.
The school has expelled Naomi indefinitely, saying in a statement that weapons or replica weapons are prohibited. School officials refused to release any pictures or details of the offending item, saying they are “part of the child’s discipline record.”
“I’m sorry anything can be a weapon,” the father said. “A pencil is more of a weapon than the toy gun she brought to school.” When the parents tried to appeal, the school sent them a letter saying that the girl would be subject to criminal trespassing charges if she is seen on the campus or at any school sponsored event.
Is this punishment too extreme? Perhaps a better question would be why on earth would a parent allow their child to bring a toy gun to school in light of the recent Sandy Hook shootings? As such I find it difficult to side with the parents on this one.
Here are other similar incidents that border on the ludicrous:
A five-year-old in Massachusetts who faces suspension for building a small toy gun out of lego bricks and play-shooting his classmates.
There was an incident that erupted when a discussion between two children about a toy nerf gun caused a lockdown and a massive armed police response at two elementary schools in the Bronx.
Earlier this month, a Long Island high school was also placed on lock down for 6 hours in response to a student carrying a toy nerf gun.
Another incident this month saw a five-year-old girl suspended after a three hour grilling, and described as a “terroristic threat”, when she brought a pink bubble gun to school. (But in this case the little girl pretended to shoot her classmates, then herself!)
Last week, a South Philadelphia elementary student was searched in front of classmates and threatened with arrest after she mistakenly brought a “paper gun” to school.
A 6-year-old boy was suspended from his elementary school in Maryland for making a gun gesture with his hand and saying “pow”.
Days later another two 6-year-olds in Maryland were suspended for pointing their fingers into gun shapes while playing “cops and robbers” with each other.
In Oklahoma, a five-year-old boy was also recently suspended for making a gun gesture with his hand.
A 13-year-old Middle School seventh grade student in Pennsylvania was also suspended for the same hand gesture.
Why the sudden explosion of play gun play at our elementary schools? Or, is it just the panic following the latest school shooting?