Toy Guns

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AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560
Toy Guns

Gun play: 'Zero tolerance' toward schoolkids could backfire, says expert | Fox News

I know many of you do not like Fox News, but I do think the article addresses the topic.

Do you think there should be a zero tolerance for toy guns? Do you think a young child should be expelled for biting a pop tart into the shape of a gun? Will this all backfire?

SID081108's picture
Joined: 06/03/09
Posts: 1348

I think in general 'Zero Tolerance' policies remove common sense from the equation.

John W. Whitehead: Zero Tolerance Schools Discipline Without Wiggle Room

Students have also been penalized for such inane "crimes" as bringing nail clippers to school, using Listerine or Scope, and carrying fold-out combs that resemble switchblades. A 13-year-old boy in Manassas, Virginia, who accepted a Certs breath mint from a classmate, was actually suspended and required to attend drug-awareness classes, while a 12-year-old boy who said he brought powdered sugar to school for a science project was charged with a felony for possessing a look-alike drug

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

No, no, yes.

I find with young children, a simple 'hey, no guns at school' reminder works pretty well. The kid would have eaten the pop tart, and the whole thing would have been over. Now he has been given this experience that the school is unfair and focuses on silly things, which will make this child harder to educate in the future. The one where the teacher gave permission and then the kids were suspended anyways, just floors me. Sure, come in the room and tell them they cant do it, that their teacher was mistaken, but to suspend them???? Way out of line IMO.

We have 2 pop guns and a nerf gun in our house. But we also have a rule that you dont 'kill' people, so mostly inanimate objects get 'killed'.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

I agree with Carrie that in general zero tolerance rules don't make sense.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1535

Zero tolerance lead to no common sense. We had a kid here that was suspended because someone else thought he drew a gun, the boy (a 2nd grader) swears he was trying to draw something else, like a horse if I remember correctly. This has gotten way out of hand.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

"mom3girls" wrote:

This has gotten way out of hand.

I agree. Overall, I do not want to encourage my kids to play with guns, this however is ridiculous.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

I totally support zero tolerance for guns, but "zero tolerance" should not equal "terrorizing little kids." I am absolutely appalled by some of the things the adults in that article are doing. That's not teaching, that's bullying. :evil: 5-year-olds should NEVER be grilled by a principal for TWO HOURS about ANYTHING. 6-year-olds should not be expelled for bringing a toy gun to class, at least not the first time. And children should never be humiliated in front of their peers. Sad I don't think the problem here is the zero tolerance policies, but rather the idea that "zero tolerance" means automatic suspension or expulsion for every offense, for every child, and also assuming that the children and parents know this.

Zero tolerance should be a two-part program. The first part is the education and communication that guns at school are not allowed under any circumstances. This would include talking about it in class, having information in the student handbook that parents have to sign, and sending reminders home about no guns on Halloween costumes and no water guns on picnic/play day. Kids in elementary school usually *want* to follow the rules, but they need to know exactly what the rules are, and parents can't help enforce a policy they know nothing about. The second part is a clearly defined and automatic set of responses and consequences, but those don't have to be suspension or expulsion for a first offense. There should be some reasonableness, and some age-appropriateness, to both the policy and the implementation. At the elementary school level, it's fine to say, "We don't bring, make, or play guns at school," and a fine first response is to stop & redirect the children if a game of cops & robbers pops up. (This is also why I'm a fan of organized recess activities like Playworks!) If the kids start it up again, then they sit out the rest of recess, have a talk with the counselor, and get a note sent home. If the behavior continues, then a meeting with the parents is in order and suspension (among other things, consult to a behavior specialist or child psychiatrist, perhaps) might be discussed. For a young child who brings a toy gun to school, the appropriate punishment for a first offense isn't suspension or expulsion; it's having the toy immediately confiscated and sent home with a reminder about the zero tolerance policy. Second offense could be suspension for a 5th grader but it could be something else for a kindergartner.

By middle school and high school, after many years of education about this issue, I'm fine with automatic suspension for a first offense. In my district, at those levels, possessing a "look-alike" toy gun, or a BB or pellet gun, is also automatically reported to the police. And in the article Carrie posted, ITA with the punishment the high school freshman got for shooting plastic pellets :shock: at classmates; that is nothing less than battery, and expulsion was absolutely appropriate IMHO. And I'd add that he should have been punished the same way regardless of whether the shooting device was a toy gun or a rubber band! I'm surprised that author used that as his lead example because that is clearly NOT an example of the "inhumane treatment of young people and the criminalization of childish behavior" that he's complaining about.

SID081108's picture
Joined: 06/03/09
Posts: 1348

"Spacers" wrote:

And in the article Carrie posted, ITA with the punishment the high school freshman got for shooting plastic pellets :shock: at classmates; that is nothing less than battery, and expulsion was absolutely appropriate IMHO. And I'd add that he should have been punished the same way regardless of whether the shooting device was a toy gun or a rubber band! I'm surprised that author used that as his lead example because that is clearly NOT an example of the "inhumane treatment of young people and the criminalization of childish behavior" that he's complaining about.

I felt similarly about that example. I was thinking it was odd that they downplayed them as being "similar to spit wads" or whatever...plastic bullets, no matter how small, could really hurt. Definitely not a good example of the topic at hand.