We have witnessed a series of “zero tolerance” incidents in which school officials punish young children, usually boys, for using their imagination to play act guns:
- 10-year old Johnny Jones suspended for shooting imaginary arrow
- The zero-tolerance war on kindergarteners
- 12-year old RI student suspended for small keychain “gun”
- Maryand school offers counseling for students troubled by “pastry gun” incident
- 6-year old brings Quarter-sized toy gun on bus, threatened with detention and suspension
- Second Grader Suspended for Pointing Pencil Like a Gun
Here’s another one, from The Columbus Dispatch:
A Columbus principal suspended a student for three days last week after the child pointed a “ lookalike firearm” at another student in class and pretended to shoot.
The boy’s age? 10. The “level 2 lookalike firearm” cited in his suspension letter? His finger.
“I was just playing around,” said Nathan Entingh, a fifth-grader at Devonshire Alternative Elementary School in a far northern section of the district. “People play around like this a lot at my school.”
Other kids have been caught playing pretend gun games on the playground at Devonshire and weren’t suspended, Nathan said.
Devonshire Principal Patricia Price has warned students about pretend gun play numerous times this year, and everyone should know the rules by now, district spokesman Jeff Warner said. Nathan put his finger to the side of the other student’s head and pretended to shoot “kind of execution style,” Warner said.
“The kids were told, ‘If you don’t stop doing this type of stuff, there would be consequences,’” Warner said. “It’s just been escalating.” Warnings included three newsletters sent home with kids, he said.
The boy’s father, Paul Entingh, said no one felt threatened, and it’s the adults who are acting childish in their response to a typical 10-year-old’s misstep.
“He said he was playing,” Paul Entingh said. “It would even make more sense maybe if he brought a plastic gun that looked like a real gun or something, but it was his finger.”
The other student didn’t even see the offense — a teacher witnessed the hand gesture, both sides agree.