Do you remember a time where a game of “cops and robbers” during school recess was treated as innocently as it was meant to be? If you are elementary school student Jordan Bennett, you don’t. Bennett was suspended from school for a day after playing that deadly game in the school yard, which included the 8-year old forming his hand into the shape of a gun. The boy’s mother is fighting the suspension, but the damage has already been done.
In Virginia, two teenage boys were suspended for a year after playing with airsoft guns on their own property. A “concerned” neighbor called the police and successfully got these two kids on a long-term suspension (the neighbor must be proud of his or her stand against “gun violence”) after being charged with the possession, handling and use of a firearm. The charge was later changed to reflect the obvious, that these boys were not in possession of a “firearm”, but an airsoft gun. Their one year suspensions remain in effect, and their records will forever reflect the crime of, well, being kids.
A 15-year old boy faces weapons charges after he was playing with an airsoft gun near an apartment complex of one of his friends. Again, a “concerned neighbor” called the police and reported the dangerous kids to authorities. So concerned were the police that, after the initial investigation on the night of the incident, the police gave the airsoft gun back to the boy, supposedly ending the incident. Unfortunately, police returned to the boy’s home three weeks later because, according to the boy’s mother, police told her that someone “above the officer” wanted charges pressed against the boy.
A second grade student in Pennsylvania was suspended and charged as a “weapons offender” after the clearly dangerous 7-year old boy brought a buzzer pen to school. The buzzer, the report said, is similar to what a clown might hold in his hand to emit an unexpected buzzing sound when shaking hands. The parents of the 7-year old are suing the school and the district, arguing they were not given an opportunity to contest the disciplinary reaction of the principle.
Or, how about the 7-year old out of Maryland who was suspended from school for two days after the crime of biting a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun and “waving it around”? Sadly, this young man will remain in the same school district for another decade under the watchful eye of a school district with the judgment of a child, overreacting to the natural expressions of kids based on a thorough and deep acceptance of political correctness run amuck. We are criminalizing kids being kids over the emotional and wholly illogical response to highly publicized and sensationalized national gun crimes.
Worse, these school systems are teaching kids never to trust those in positions of authority. When knee-jerk decisions are made from reckless and largely unaccountable school administrators, it ingrains within our young people a feeling of “us vs. them” and encourages our nation’s younger generation to be distrustful of those who are supposed to be on their side. It creates an environment where kids are watching their own backs and protecting themselves not just from other students, but from the system.
The system is failing. The decisions made by those in power in our nation’s school system stand as a shining example of how a psychotic Lord of the Flies-type authority over kids is quite literally destroying the fabric of our society. The idea is to punish kids for lesser offenses so they are less likely to commit more dangerous offenses. But, the affect that these policies have are harmful to our nation’s kids and, according to many, could backfire.
Political correctness is not a proper teaching tool. Suspending kids for biting a breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun is how we turn kids into rebellious and angry people. It might make school principals around the nation feel better about the safety of their schools by suspending students for innocent and juvenile acts, but it builds into our school’s culture a notion that administrators and school leaders lack even the most basic judgment to protect our kids and teach them right from wrong. Our schools are preventing kids from being kids.
Many of us remember a time when schools had indoor gun ranges in the basement. Others might recall a time where they walked to school carrying a 22-caliber rifle and stored it in the bushes outside their classroom for retrieval after class. School massacres then, as they are now (to the contrary of media hype), are rare – incredibly rare.
Our nation has come from a time where weapons were a natural and legitimate part of our environment to one where students are suspended from school for shaping their hands into a pistol, or playing cops and robbers during recess, or playing with airsoft guns on their own properties. These incidents could be used as an opportunity to teach our kids right from wrong. But, that is not happening. Instead of teaching our kids, many schools immediately jump to serious disciplinary action, and that is not helpful. These policies are dreadfully regressive.
Zero tolerance policies progress our society backwards, and the culture of political correctness within our schools provides the fuel for this phenomenon. In reality, these policies are not simply “zero tolerance”. In our nation’s school system, it’s nothing but “zero judgment”.
It creates an angry and distrustful society of young people. It creates a harmful and counter-productive learning environment. And, it destroys the fabric of our society.