Thursday, February 7, 2013

Seven Year Old Can't Pretend to Have a Grenade, or ELSE!

In what seems to be a contiuing war on children, a seven year old boy in Colorado is in big, big trouble because he pretended to throw a pretend grenade into a pretend box of evil, according to television station KDVR.
Alex, the thrower of the imaginary grenade that caused
imaginary destruction inside an imaginary evil lair.

The most casual observers of kids that age know they have a very active imagination and always play act scenarios like fighting evil, like this boy was doing. It's just the developmental process. They're unwittingly practicing for the challenges they will face as adults, even if those adult challenges involve unpleasant bosses and not evil and boxes and grenades.

To be clear, the boy had nothing in his hand. He just pretended to throw something and made a noise to depict an explosion when the evil in the box got killed by his "grenade."

KDVR quoted second grader Alex Evans, 7, this way:

“I was trying to save people and I just can’t believe I got dispended,” says Alex Evans, who doesn’t understand his suspension any better than he can pronounce it.
“It’s called ‘rescue the world,’” he says.

The school, as part of the national craze of zero tolerance that I repeatedly rant about and deplore, has these absolute rules against weapons, real or imaginary.

According to the Loveland Reporter Herald, the school district says the issue is more complicated than is being let on, but can't comment on individual kids.

Still, I have to wonder. As I've said before. Yes, we want safe schools. Yes, we want to teach all kids to behave and be respectful and nonviolent. But in a few schools, certainly not most schools, common sense is not in the curriculum.

Alex's suspension seems to have grown out of what seem to be perfectly reasonable rules the school has. No fighting or weapons, real or imagined are allowed. People, and the school as a whole must be treated with respect.

My guess is that the ban on imagined fighting and weapons stems from a reasonable opposition to say, some kids pointing an imaginary gun at a classmate and saying "I wish you were dead."

But there appears to be no distinction between that kind of negative behavior and simple, normal behavior or misunderstandings.

I came across an excellent op-ed piece written a couple years ago by attorney and author John Whitehead, who argues zero tolerance rules tie school administrators hands and dictate equal punishment for completely difference offenses. 

It pretty much comes down to meaning a seven year old who is playing cops and robbers by "shooting:" someone with his pointed finger is punished as harshly as another kid  dangerously and maliciously  points a loaded 9 mm Glock at classmates.

Or, maybe most zero tolerance policies are fine and do give administrators flexibility, and that in a few cases, school officials lack common sense.

It is true that these weird stories, like the seven year old with the "grenade" don't happen at most schools.

My question is, if this has been a problem for years now, why isn't anyone doing anything about it?  Shouldn't there be any consequences for the few school administrators out there can't manage any hint of common sense?

The reason I'm so worried about this is, as funny as these stupid incidents are, they teach kids exactly the wrong lessons. Do we really want to teach our future leaders to be completely inflexible, don't ask questions, don't determine what is actually going on, don't solve problems, don't think.

I'm not quite sure that's the recipe to create the world's best leaders. 

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