Reeducating a generation

Reports of children receiving harsh punishment for seemingly trivial offenses concerning toy guns, finger guns, or drawings of guns are not new.  The response by parents is consistently one of bewilderment followed by assertions that the school policy is silly, or that administrators are just not using sound judgement.  There is a tendency to presume that such seemingly strange behavior on the part of school officials is unintentional.  That tendency is misguided.  School officials recognize the significance of the influence that they have on school children, particularly the very  young. This indoctrination extends beyond the individual students singled out for punishment, by singling out the "bad" child as an example for the whole student body. School boards and parent groups need to give serious consideration to what the proper response needs to be regarding this effort to reshape the thinking of the next generation of Americans regarding gun rights. Remember that for every child reassured at home that they've done nothing wrong, and the school just overreacted, there is a whole school full of children that only get one side of the "lesson".
September 2013: Oceola County Fll, (Daily Caller) - Administrators at Harmony Community School in Osceola County, Florida wasted no time in suspending a student who pointed his finger at another student in a gun-like manner. Eight-year-old Jordan Bennett was playing cops and robbers with his friends while at school. At one point, he gestured with his finger as if he were holding a gun, and pretended to shoot. This alarmed school officials, who promptly removed the boy from classes for the rest of the day. The gesture amounted to a threat of violence, according to the school. (The bullies of small children are off to a roaring start for the school year) Read more: LINK

September 2013: Coventry, R.I., (Daily Caller) - Yet another student has landed in trouble for having something that represents a gun, but isn’t actually anything like a real gun. The student is 12-year-old Joseph Lyssikatos, a student in advanced math who had perfect attendance last year. The seventh-grader made the mistake of bringing a ridiculously small, silver keychain shaped like a gun to Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School. The two-inch keychain fell out of Lyssikatos’s backpack while he was at school. After another kid picked it up and displayed it to other students, a teacher intervened and impounded the keychain.Apparently fearing that the roughly quarter-sized hunk of cheap metal was somehow a danger to life and limb, school officials sprang into action. They suspended Lyssikatos for three days. He has also been banned from an upcoming class field trip. (The parent response in this one is classic...they are wondering why the other child involved wasn't punished too. Hey mom, it would be wrong for either child to be suspended over a key chain "incident". I guess oppression loves company.) Read more: LINK

September 2013: SOUTHGATE, Mich. (WJBK) -The parents of 9-year-old Gage say he has been suspended from school indefinitely after a teacher believes he was pretending a toy was a gun. Gage brought the toy into school at Creative Montessori Academy in Southgate and was showing it to a friend before school hours when a teacher says Gage pointed the gun at his friend and said "bang, bang." Gage and the two other boys who were with him at the time of the incident say he never said the words "bang, bang." They say one of the friends asked Gage to see the toy and Gage says, as he was handing the toy to his friend, he tapped the friend on the shoulder a few times with it. Gage showed exactly what he remembers doing with the toy to Fox 2's Ron Savage. Read more: LINK

September 2013: VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - A suspended seventh grade Virginia Beach student will find out soon if he is expelled for the rest of the year for shooting an airsoft gun. Like thousands of others in Hampton Roads, Khalid Caraballo plays with airsoft guns. The two seventh graders say they never went to the bus stop; they fired the airsoft guns while on Caraballo's private property. Aidan’s father, Tim Clark, told what happened next lacks commons sense. The children were suspended for possession, handling and use of a firearm. Khalid's mother, Solangel Caraballo, thinks it is ridiculous the Virginia Beach City Public School System suspended her 13-year-old son and Aidan because they were firing a spring-driven airsoft gun on the Caraballo's posted private property.  "My son is my private property.  He does not become the school's property until he goes to the bus stop, gets on the bus, and goes to school." Read more: LINK

June 2013: SUFFOLK, Va. - A Suffolk school suspended two second grade students for pointing pencils at each other and making gun noises. When asked about his role in the episode, 7 year old Christopher Marshall (who's father was a Marine) said, "Well I was being a Marine and the other guy was being a bad guy". Reader responses to the story at the link given below elicited a response by a self identified insider indicating that some portion of the reason for suspending Christopher was to get his parents to "smarten up" to the correct way of thinking about the situation. Read more: LINK

June 2013: Hayward, CA - Elementary school holds gun buy back event. In exchange for the colorful toy firearms, Stonebridge Elementary School students received books and a chance to win a new bike. Read more: LINK

June 2013: OWINGS, MD - The father of a middle schooler in Calvert County, Md. says his 11-year-old son was suspended for 10 days for merely talking about guns.  Bruce Henkelman of Huntingtown says his son, a sixth grader at Northern Middle School in Owings, was talking with friends about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre when the bus driver hauled him back to school to be questioned by the principal, Darrel Prioleau. According to his father, he neither threatened nor bullied anyone. "He said, I wish I had a gun to protect everyone...He wanted to be the hero." The boy was questioned by the principal and a sheriff's deputy, who also wanted to search the family home without a warrant, Henkelman said. "He started asking me questions about if I have firearms, and [the deputy said] he's going to have to search my house.  Search my house?  I just wanted to know what happened." Read more: LINK

June 2013: Edmons Wa - A number of Edmonds school kids were recently suspended for having Nerf guns at school. That's not surprising considering the school's "zero tolerance" policy on toy guns (bloggers note: it should still be surprising), but what is surprising is that the teacher allegedly told the kids it was okay to have the guns....A sixth grade boy brought a number of the guns, which shoot small foam projectiles, to school for a class probability project. The kids were going to shoot the guns 100 times to see what happens. The project was allegedly approved by the teacher. But the 12-year-old boys, being what they are, decided to "try out" the guns before the school doors opened. "So he took them out and of course -- Nerf gun -- they started testing how far they would shoot," said parent Shannon Shumard. Neither Shumard's sixth grade son nor her fourth grade daughter brought the Nerf guns to school, but because they participated, both were suspended for a day. Because of the suspensions, neither child will be able to take a high school algebra class or serve on the student council. Read more: LINK

May 2013: Calvert County, Maryland - A kindergartner who brought a cowboy-style cap gun onto his Calvert County school bus was suspended for 10 days after showing a friend the orange-tipped toy, which he had tucked inside his backpack on his way to school, according to his family and a lawyer. The child was questioned for more than two hours before his mother was called, she said, adding that he uncharacteristically wet his pants during the episode. The boy is 5 — “all bugs and frogs and cowboys,” his mother said. Read more: LINK

May 2013: PALMER, Mass  (WGGB) — A plastic Lego sized gun caused a disturbance on a Old Mill Pond Elementary School bus Friday morning. Mieke Crane is the mother of the six-year-old kindergarten student who brought the gun on the bus...The school sent home a letter to parents of students who take the bus explaining what happened. It stressed no gun was on the bus and there was never any danger. Read more: LINK

May 2013:  SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - A Suffolk school suspended a second grader for pointing a pencil at another student and making gun noises. Seven-year-old Christopher Marshall says he was playing with another student in class Friday, when the teacher at Driver Elementary asked them to stop pointing pencils at each other. "When I asked him about it, he said, 'Well I was being a Marine and the other guy was being a bad guy,'" said Paul Marshall, the boy's father. "It's as simple as that." Read more: LINK

April 2013: Conn - A Connecticut father is accusing his son's school district of teaching children that Americans do not have a constitutional right to bear arms... On Monday his social studies teacher gave students a worksheet titled, ‘The Second Amendment Today.’ - “The courts have consistently determined that the Second Amendment does not ensure each individual the right to bear arms,” the worksheet states. “The courts have never found a law regulating the private ownership of weapons unconstitutional. The worksheet, published by Instructional Fair, goes on to say that the Second Amendment is not incorporated against the states. “This means that the rights of this amendment are not extended to the individual citizens of the states,” Read more: LINK

March 2013: Baltimore, MD - 7-year-old Josh Welch was eating a Pop-Tart at school. A teacher saw the pastry and said she thought it looked like it was being shaped into a gun.  The teacher also said she heard Welch say, "Bang Bang" while he was holding it.  That was enough to get him suspended (for two days). Welch said his teacher got it completely wrong, "It was already a rectangle and I just kept on biting it and tore off the top, and it kind of looked like a gun but it wasn't." Welch said he was trying to shape the Pop-Tart into a mountain. (Way to go Josh, you've learned that shaping your food into a gun shape is evil, but mountains are ok - one more success for the reeducators)  Read more: LINK

February 2013: FLORENCE, AZ - A high school student in Florence said he has been suspended because of a picture of a gun. Daniel McClaine Jr., a freshman at Poston Butte High School, said he saved the picture as his desktop background on his school-issued computer. A teacher noticed it and turned him in for violating the school's policy against "threatening or harrasing" images. Read more: LINK

February 2013: A 10-year-old boy was arrested on Tuesday for showing off a plastic toy gun to his friends on the school bus (The "journalist" for this article repeatedly refers to the toy as a "weapon"). Read more: LINK

January 2013: The mother of a third-grade boy enrolled at Pioneer Trail Elementary is upset her son was suspended from school for three days after bringing a key chain fob in the shape of a handgun to school Tuesday. Brandy Williams, mother of 9-year-old Romello Carter, said she thought the punishment was “a little extreme,” considering the key chain fob was in no way a weapon, and was purchased as a toy. The item is about 2 inches long. Read more: LINK

February 2013: A 7-year-old Colorado boy was suspended for throwing an imaginary hand grenade on his elementary school playground. Yes, imaginary—as in not real, as in there was absolutely nothing in his hand...Alex Evans told KDVR-TV that he didn’t throw the pretend grenade at another student. In an effort to “save the world,” Evans said he tossed it into a box that contained “evil forces.” When the grenade landed in the box, Evans pretended that it exploded. Read more: LINK

January 2013: A 5-year-old Pennsylvania girl who told another girl she was going to shoot her with a pink toy "Hello Kitty" gun that blows soapy bubbles has been suspended from kindergarten...Attorney Robin Ficker says Mount Carmel Area School District officials labeled the girl a "terrorist threat" for the bubble gun remark, made Jan. 10 as both girls waited for a school bus. Read more: LINK

January 2013: Maryland educators are launching an assault on normal childhood behavior. In Talbot County, Maryland, two boys aged 6 were recently suspended for pretending their fingers were guns while playing cops and robbers during recess. Read more: LINK

January 2013: Playtime in school turned problematic for a 5-year-old Massachusetts boy who made a toy gun out of two Legos. Read more: LINK

January 2013: A Philadelphia 5th grader was threatened by school administrators, and harassed by fellow students after she unintentionally brought a paper "gun" to school.  Read more: LINK

December 2012: The parents of a 6-year-old Silver Spring boy are fighting the first-grader’s suspension from a Montgomery County public school for pointing his finger like a gun and saying “pow,” an incident school officials characterized in a disciplinary letter as a threat “to shoot a student.” Read more: LINK

April 2012: ORANGE — Orange County Public Schools playgrounds are no place to play cops and robbers, as some local children found out recently. According to one parent, three local middle school children were recently faced with expulsion and felony charges after playing with airsoft guns on the Orange Elementary School playground. Read more: LINK

Novermber 2011: CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A kindergartner has been suspended from Cheviot Elementary after it was discovered he brought a toy gun to school. Liam Adams, 5, was sent home Wednesday with a letter stating that he would be suspended for three days for possessing a "dangerous weapon or object." Read more: LINK

December 2010: Lydia Fox said her 7-year-old son is like any other little boy — vivid imagination, loves to play with GI Joe action figures and Nerf guns...But pointing his finger in the shape of a gun at fellow students landed Patrick Riley in trouble last week at Parkview Elementary School in the Midwest City-Del City district...Fox said the first-grader was given in-school suspension Friday for his behavior. Read more: LINK

June 2010: PROVIDENCE, R.I. Christan Morales said her son just wanted to honor American troops when he wore a hat to school decorated with an American flag and small plastic Army figures. But the school banned the hat because it ran afoul of the district's zero-tolerance weapons policy. Why? The toy soldiers were carrying tiny guns. Read more: LINK

October 2007: DENNIS TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — A second-grader's drawing of a stick figure shooting a gun earned him a one-day school suspension. Kyle Walker, 7, was suspended last week for violating Dennis Township Primary School's zero-tolerance policy on guns, the boy's mother, Shirley McDevitt, told The Press of Atlantic City. Kyle gave the picture to another child on the school bus, and that child's parents complained about it to school officials, McDevitt said. Her son told her the drawing was of a water gun, she said. Read more: LINK

August 2007: Officials at an Arizona school suspended a 13-year-old boy for sketching what looked like a gun, saying the action posed a threat to his classmates.The boy's parents said the drawing was a harmless doodle and school officials overreacted. Read more: LINK

May 2001: The mother of an eight-year-old boy is questioning the suspension of her son from the Ragged Island Consolidated School, near Lockeport. Billy Barnes was sent home for a day after he pointed a breaded chicken finger at another child and said "bang."Read more: LINK

March 2000: officials suspended four New Jersey kindergarten children for pointing fingers at each other as mock guns in an apparent game of "cops and robbers." The boys, all 6, were suspended for three days after the March 15 incident during lunch recess at Wilson School in Sayreville. Read more: LINK

There are others, but hopefully this illustrates the problem.  I'll plan to add more to this page as new examples come up.

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