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