Sigh -- RIP common sense. Another day, another story about a teenager whose school decided he was a criminal for expressing himself in a totally harmless way. A South Carolina 16-year-old boy was questioned by police and ultimately suspended for turning in a creative writing piece about killing his neighbor's pet dinosaur.
Because, I suppose, he was a threat to dinosaurs everywhere? Or maybe they assumed his serious hatred toward dinos would result in him lashing out against his peers? Let's ruminate for a moment about what could have been going through the minds of concerned school administrators when they made the choice to completely turn this teen off to school, deny him a creative outlet, and encourage him to bury his imagination.
Alex Stone admits his writing could have been more eloquent, though I'm not sure what we expect from a young teen. In response to a teacher's instructions to write a few sentences about themselves and list a "status" that mimicked a Facebook post, Alex penned: "I killed my neighbor's pet dinosaur. I bought the gun to take care of the business."
Silly, for sure. If I were his teacher, I'd make him write 10 additional sentences about himself as punishment for not taking my assignment seriously. But criminal?
That's what his teacher and administrators at Summerville High School thought. Still, to be fair to them, ALL educators are on such high alert after all of the tragic shootings that have taken place at schools across the country; I don't blame them for taking this seriously. Their hands really are tied.
The root of the problem comes from the top -- there's such paranoia about school violence that we're losing our common sense and failing to distinguish between those students who are truly violent and others who dare write the word "gun" in a creative writing piece. We live in a country where gun use and gun talk is pervasive yet have zero tolerance when a kid confirms this fact via a school assignment.
Alex was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct because he argued with police. His mother says she was angry that the school didn't call her first. She agrees he should have been made to rewrite the piece but believes that the authorities went overboard.
Alex was suspended for a week. He says he doesn't want to go back to the school and would rather be home-schooled.
Do you think the school did the right thing by calling police?
Image via hobvias sudoneighm/Flickr