Kid Suspended for Bringing Gun to School Would Have Been Better Off Hiding It

Rant 35

boy with gunGetting kids to fess up when they've done something wrong can be like pulling teeth. But third grader Andrew Berry knew he screwed up when he opened his backpack at school and found the unloaded BB gun he'd stowed in there when he went to visit his grandparents over the weekend. Oops! So the 8-year-old told his teacher. Now the school has rewarded his honesty with 10 days of suspension.

And we wonder why our kids are afraid to tell us the truth? They know adults aren't always that trustworthy themselves!

The whole fiasco sounds like another case of "zero tolerance" gone too far, and I can't help but think of the message this sends to little kids. The school just basically told this little boy that he would have been better off hiding the gun all day, just moving along like it was never there. 

If he'd done that, the school likely wouldn't have even known. They would never have thought to ask if Andrew was shooting with his grandpa over the weekend, never asked if he'd left the gun in his bag.

But Andrew Berry's parents -- his dad is in Afghanistan serving in the Army, by the way -- obviously did a good job with their son. They've raised the kind of kid who would be nagged by a lie of omission. They've raised the kind of kid I'm trying to raise.

I want my daughter to feel safe telling me the truth, and I try to make a point to praise her when she comes to me with a confession. She's just a kid, just a year younger than the boy with the BB gun, and she will make mistakes (actually, she'll make them for the rest of her life ... she's human!).

I don't promise that she will never have consequences for what she tells me, but she's learning that I'm pretty reasonable (or I try to be ... come on, we've all been there, right?). If I want her to be honest with me, I have to be reasonable. Otherwise I'll end up in the same boat as the schools: with kids who are scared to be honest.

What do you think should be done with this little boy? Should his suspension be wiped from the books or should he be held to it for bringing a gun to school?


Image journeyguy/Flickr

back to school, discipline, elementary school, guns


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Lilyp... Lilypad523

Unbelievable. I'd be furious if that was my kid and he got suspended. It was an honest mistake, and he was being responsible. I'd never punish a child for being responsible. What'd be so bad about handing it over to the principal and making a parent come pick up the gun? I would fight that like no other. Just crazy.

Jscot... Jscott1216

I agree with lilypad. They could have called his mom to come get it and said thank you for not hiding it please be more careful in the future. Instead they just showed him that no matter what you do in the eyes of the school anymore you will always be a trouble maker. I understand there are rules for a reason but he knew he messed up by forgetting it and then came clean with his teacher and the school and told them what happened and instead he gets punished. That school blew this way out of proportion!

missusmc missusmc

Just because he was honest, doesn't mean there are still not consequences. As adults, if we break the law, we are still punished regardless of if we fess up. It's a valuable life lesson that he has now learned at a young age. Maybe next time the parents will help him be more responsible with his gun.

miche... micheledo

missusmc - exactly.  Because if you walk out of the store with something at the bottom of your cart that you didn't pay for, and as you are loading the packages in your car, you find the item, you better be ready for the consequences.  You STOLE and you need to go to jail.  It doesn't matter if you turn around and take it right back in and return the item with an apology.  You stole it and need to pay the consequences.

Pinkmani Pinkmani

Even though it wasn't intentional, he broke a rule. Sometimes life isn't fair, no matter your intentions. Sorry, kiddo...

missusmc missusmc

Micheldo- crimes are punished according to severity. Your stealing analogy doesn't quite work. I can tell you that if an adult forgets and takes a firearm into a school in my district, regardless of intent, that adult would have the police called on him/her and he or she would have to go to court and face the consequences. It's a big deal.

Mommi... MommietoJB

@missusmc- I totally agree

Also what if this bb gun was loaded, and went off accidently and a child got hurt. That is what the school is punishing him for, and their in the right. He knows now and every child in that school to never bring a gun to school. His parents should be teaching him how to take care of his gun and not forget to store it in a safe place.

kelti... kelticmom

First of all, it was a BB gun, not a 9 Mil, so the worst that could have happpened was he could have "shot his eye out". Secondly, really???? He deserved to be punished because he broke a rule, though accidental? He reported it the minute he became aware. He hurt no one. He was truthful. He did all the right things, and was still punished. That doesn't teach him anything except that next time he would be better off being deceitful. That honesty gets you punished. That makes zero sense.

kelti... kelticmom

And before I get jumped on, the BB reference was from A Christmas Story. And did you miss the part where it was unloaded MommietoJB?

miche... micheledo

Okay.  I will use a more extreme analogy.  NOT the same thing, but actually much worse.

My sister's friend was driving when a child ran in front of him.  The child was killed.  He did not go to jail - it was accidental.  However, if he had fled the scene or tried to cover it up he WOULD have been in a LOT of trouble and been put in jail.

I would say the child should not be punished.  However, if he chose to hide it and the gun was discovered, THEN he should be suspended.

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