Talk about an over-reaction! A 6-year-old boy has been suspended from school for pointing his finger like a gun and saying "pow" to another student. The Maryland first grader is unlucky enough to have gotten caught up in the mass anxiety that's swept American school districts in the wake of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Let's just set aside the debate over kids and gun play for a second, shall we? Unfortunately, his school record isn't going to reflect the national distress at the exact moment of his little mishap. Instead we have a 6-year-old whose minor transgression will follow him for the rest of his school career. Is that really fair?
The child's family is fighting to have this little guy's suspension expunged from his record, and I can't help but agree with them. Because let's face it, this was pretty minor. This kid used his FINGERS in the shape of a gun! He didn't bring a real gun to school.
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What's more, he's only 6. He's at an age when adult supervision is a must, when kids' brains are still so underdeveloped that something as simple as tying their own shoes is often a challenge. And we expect them to think out the repercussions of pointing their fingers at a pal right after a mass school shooting?
I don't think so.
We have put school administrators in a tough spot in America. We expect them to come down hard on kids who act up. We want to strike out bullying, end school violence. We mean well, but we're hurting our kids.
Six-year-olds are suspended for pointing their fingers. Six-year-olds are haunted forever by actions done when they were SIX!
It's as this 6-year-old's attorney pointed out to the Washington Post:
They took the worst possible interpretation of this little child’s actions, and five years from now, if he gets into a tussle, they’re going to look back and say, ‘This is one bad little kid.'
We need to strike a balance here. Can't we hold little kids accountable for their actions without forcing them to pay for being young and immature forever? Can't we hold off on the hardcore punishments, on marking the "permanent" record until they're old enough to actually understand what they're doing?
Do you think it's right to brand this 6-year-old for something so silly? Should transgressions for kids this young go on their record?
Image via TheChanel/Flickr