7-Year-Old Suspended From School for Using Pencil as 'Gun' Was Just Being a Kid

Rant 9

pencilSigh. In a story that sounds all too familiar these days, a 7-year-old boy was suspended from school after pretending his pencil was a gun.

Christopher Marshall, a second grader, was attempting to imitate a Marine when he "shot" his friend pretending to be a bad guy. Both of the boys stopped their game when the teacher said something to them, but both wound up being suspended for their actions.

Bethanne Bradshaw, a spokesperson for Driver Elementary School in Suffolk, Virginia where the boys attend, says, "It's an effort to try to get kids not to bring any form of violence into the classroom, even if it's violent play."

And I get that. I really do.

In the day and age we're living in, violence, bullying, and simulating guns in school simply can't be tolerated.

But it's not like either of these boys was attempting to hurt the other -- they were simply playing a game, which is something 7-year-old boys tend to do. (Shocker.)

Christopher's parents were outraged when he was suspended and his mother said, "I find it ridiculous that he cannot use his imagination and be a boy. When my son wants to pretend he’s a Marine or a Navy pilot like his granddad or an auto mechanic like his other granddad, I don’t think that should be an issue."

And as the mom of a 7-year-old boy myself -- I have to agree with her. (Let me explain.)

I do my very best to teach my son just how dangerous guns are and stress the importance of never pretending to play with them, but he's just a kid -- and sometimes kids go about their business without really thinking about what they're doing.

And on top of that, he's a boy. A lot of times he and his friends will play zombies, cops and robbers, act out Angry Birds, or other sorts of games that may or may not wind up with someone hypothetically getting knocked out -- or possibly shot at. I can honestly tell you that they're not intentionally trying to be violent -- they're just being little boys.

I guess that's why I feel compassion for Christopher and his parents. He's probably a great kid who was simply having fun with a friend -- and he got suspended for it. And while I do think the boys should've been told that playing with pretend guns is unacceptable in school, I just don't think suspending them is the answer. Maybe if they'd harmed (or attempted to harm) each other in some way, I'd feel differently. But since all they were doing is acting like a Marine and a "bad guy," there really could've been a much less harsh punishment.

Hopefully I will never get a phone call from my son's school saying he's being kicked out of class for something like this. But again, no matter how much I stress the importance of never, EVER pretending to use a gun -- I can't control his every action. (Honestly, what parent can?)

Do you ever worry about your child getting in trouble for something like this? Do you think those boys should have been suspended?


Image via isox4/Flickr

boys, discipline, elementary school


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LostS... LostSoul88

This country is a very sad and pathetic place to live. Wish it was easier to move out of here. I don;t want my kids to grow up in fear they might get in trouble for doing normal kid things. 

Rootbear Rootbear



redK8... redK8blueSt8

I have a 7 year old boy, named Christopher too as a matter of fact, and I worry about this hyper-sensitivity to the point of lunacy all the time with him and school. He came home from school telling me that a kid "told on me for making a gun hand" at school. He said he was crossing his fingers, with the ring and pinky curled and his thumb out, I guess you could say it looked like a gun hand, but COME ON! Even if he was making a gun hand, so effing what?!

There is a HUGE difference between playing hero (soldier, cop, etc) and playing psycho murderer. Playing out good vs. evil and hero vs. villain is a necessary developmental play in a child.  It is disgusting and atrocious that schools are setting up a rigid reaction free from common sense and logical observation into the specific situations.

daydr... daydreamer6170

only in america...this school should be ashamed of themselves

nonmember avatar Patrick Ellis

Come ON Teachers and get into the real world! They were playing Cops & Robbers. I am sure he is justly proud of his Marine Father,as I am of my ex-Marine son, who proudly served his country for 20 years. Boys will be boys! or would you rather they all played "ring a ring of roses"?? Get a life!!!!

kisse... kisses5050

any given chance there are two little boys that are shooting nazis  if they were sent to the office everytime they were under the desks playing soldier they would lose so much class time they would be a year behind....teachers use common sense and and tell them to quit playing and pay attention

nonmember avatar Silver Fang

Back in the day, kids used to play Cops/Robbers and Cowboys/Indians and no one cared. Why are we so sensitive about that now? Were the 50s any less violent than today? Hadn't we just lived through WWII? Weren't we under constant fear of a nuclear fallout? Yet somehow, children were allowed to play their games without adults attacking them for it. Where have we gone wrong as a nation since then?

nonmember avatar ahjr

The teacher or principal should have just sat the boys down and talked to them about the situation. Kids role play all of the time. It doesn't mean they are going to grow up and be murders. If that were true, all grow men would be because they have all played cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers. Knowledge empowers children... Not being suspended for a reason they don't understand. No lesson was taught here.

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