Boy Suspended for Being 'Credible Threat' With Laser Pointer

suspended for laser pointer

Here's an item to add to the list of dangerous things your kid absolutely should not be bringing to school: laser pointers. Apparently these office products fall into the same zero-tolerance category as guns, knives, and explosives -- and can result in a lengthy suspension, as evidenced in the case of a 13-year-old Indiana boy who's been kicked out of school for waving a laser pointer in the parking lot.

According to police, the boy was spotted holding a "gun-like object," and after a search of his locker came up empty, his mother said she'd seen him with a laser pointer. That's when the school suspended the boy for five days under a policy that prohibits guns or anything resembling a gun on school property.

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The police captain who commented on the incident said,

Lasers aren't made to be toys. It's unfortunate they're kind of marketed as a toy or a gimmick but they're not meant to be toys. They are very dangerous in and of themselves, but anytime you have anything that looks like a firearm it’s obviously a danger and would be considered a credible threat.

He added that local sheriffs have firearms with lasers built into them, which means that police could mistake a laser for a firearm.

The thing that isn't clear to me from the report is whether the laser pointer intentionally resembled a gun, like this toy. If it looked like this, I can totally see how someone thought the boy was holding a weapon:

But if it looked like the standard whiteboard-pointer we're all familiar with, I'm really not sure how an officer could have mistaken it for a firearm. Unless the officer in question needs a lot more training.

Whether it looked like a gun or a pen, the fact remains that plenty of schools will suspend a kid for messing with a laser pointer. A California fifth grader was suspended and sent to a violence-deterrence program a few years ago when she played with a laser pen she'd found on the playground. As her principal said at the time,

It is a dangerous object and fits into the category of a suspendable offense. We are required to respond that way.

In conclusion, teach your kids to treat laser pointers as they would any other kind of weapon, which is to say don't get near them on school grounds under any circumstances. Even though I think we can all secretly agree they make very fine cat toys.

Do you think playing with a laser pointer should result in suspension?


Images via fastlizard4/Flickr, eBay, Amazon

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