Sigh. 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