Outrage of the Afternoon: School Bans Toy Soldiers

Hi Folks! I’m a pacifist at heart and I have no desire to see guns in the school. But I also have no desire to see a boy told he cannot wear the hat he decorated with toy soldiers because the soldiers are carrying — guess what? Toy guns.

Ooh! How terrifying! You can find me under the desk!

As this A.P. article by Michelle Smith explains, the second grader made the hat for some kind of hat day, and he was inspired by having met a soldier last year. He wanted to honor the guy and our troops. That’s an impulse you really want to squash, right? Respect? Gratitude? Feh!

Apparently,  the  principal said he would not object to the boy’s patriotic hat if the little plastic soldiers simply were not carrying weapons. (Though imagine the brouhaha if the boy attempted to sever the weapons from the soldiers’ hands.It might involve a knife! And then blood! And then, probably, death!)

So off with his head! Er…hat. And chalk up another brilliant decision made in the name of  Zero Tolerance. Remember: when tiny plastic weapons are outlawed, only tiny plastic outlaws will have tiny plastic weapons. — Lenore

And you should see his Agent Orange lunchbox!

74 Responses

  1. Thanks, I needed elevated blood pressure on a Friday afternoon!

    Let me say this once very clearly: Toy soldiers are not weapons, and the little plastic guns they carry ARE NOT WEAPONS.

  2. That’s just goofy. As if little green army men actually posed a threat.

    I suppose we need to keep kids from watching Toy Story too. After all, Sarge and his men WERE kinda scary.

  3. I can’t wait until pens and pencils are banned from school. Only writing done with non-toxic finger paints. And make sure those fingernails are trimmed!

  4. Now I don’t believe in guns either. Unless your in law enforcement or the military, there is no reason why you should have a gun. And although, the second amendment states the right to bear arms, I don’t think people should be using it as excuse just for the sake of carrying a weapon. But, it is an amendment, and this story is pretty much saying the school is going against one of the original entries in the bill of rights. And not even for a real gun, but for a plastic toy soldier holding a insy-winsy plastic gun. That is completely absurd. It baffles me the thought process of people these days. An education system teaching the wrong things to children.

  5. Is it bad that I imagine the kid quoting Sarge from Toy Story by asking the principal “Where’s your honor, dirtbag? You are an absolute discrace!”

  6. Thanks, Lenore – I was about to send you an email about this. I caught it on the local news this am – this happened here in Houston, which I guess proves us Texans aren’t quite as gun-crazy as y’all think.

    A few years ago I was working a youth garden and I decided to decorate the zinnia bed near the entrance with some WW2 toy soldiers I picked up at the dollar store. (Of course, both the Japanese and American troops fighting in the zinnia jungle in my outdoor diorama portaryed the guys with the rifles and bazookas shooting the guys on their side with the pistols and “Follow Me!” hand gestures in the back, which is about the attitude you can expect from a former enlisted man toward officers. Frag ’em all.)

    I’ve got issues (to put it mildly) with America’s Longest War but my protests with Veterans For Peace and allied organizations over the last decade have been protected by the First Amendment, and so is this kid’s show of support. Where is the ACLU when we need them?

  7. I saw this in my local paper this morning and immediately thought about FRK. Utter utter ridiculousness.

  8. Whoops, sorry – it was on the local news before GMA and I thought they said it was a Houston school that did this. Oh well, I was stationed in Connecticut for four years and in my experience the folks in Rhode Island are as nutty as Texans.

  9. To be fully zero tolerance, they’ll have disallow pictures or even mention guns. That means history will have to be eliminated from the curriculum.

  10. One wonders whether there is a government agenda to convince children that guns actually don’t exist? I mean, why else would they punish every child who draws a picture, makes a sound, or acts out a pantomime that includes firearms?

    Was it the book 1984 – or was it Brave New World – that had babies hearing painfully loud noises and receiving other punishments when looking at pictures of nuisances like ducklings? With the intent of inculcating a disgust for nature into the next generation?

    We’re already well on our way toward a society that sees guns as the embodiment of evil. This is sad and dangerous, as is any kind of indoctrination.

    I allow my kids to include gunplay in their lives. Guns are real. They are amoral tools. Children should know all about them.

    Slightly off topic, but isn’t it strange that the same people who think it is dangerous for kids to admit the existence of guns are all for pushing a daily diet of sex education down our kids’ throats? “Make love, not war?”

  11. SKL – that seems like a swipe at liberals (like me). So I will take on your question.

    I have never seen/heard anyone pushing for a daily diet of sex education. I have heard, and do agree with, the idea that sex education is important and appropriate for kids at a certain age. Also, that if parents want to elect out of sex-ed that is their right.

    I do think it’s quite strange that there are parents who are OK with their kids seeing graphic images of violence, but are not OK with even mild images of sexual expression (the whole Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” controversy comes to mind). After all, I want my children to grow into adults who have a healthy sex lives. I hope that they are never on either side of a violent confrontation.

    And yeah, “make love, not war” is a wonderful slogan. Imagine if everyone took that to heart. Imagine if rather than trying to dominate others and bend them to our will, we sought to soothe them, help them and otherwise behave towards them in a loving manner. Imagine if those who were trying to harm us sought instead to understand us, and asked only that we seek to understand them.

    For the record, banning a kid from having toy soldiers because they are armed is just plain stupid.

  12. SKL: It was Brave New World which used negative conditioning (as well as positive conditioning) on cloned groups of babies and children.

    However, 1984 is apt as well, with having “Thought Crimes.” (-such as bringing a toy that portrays a gun or pointing a finger and saying “bang.” )

  13. Oh. My. GAWD! As much as I hate the word, “pansy” does apply to the supposed adults in this case. When will it end?

  14. My son was suspended for 10 days because he brought a cap gun to school. He was allowed to come to school on a safety plan, without a backpack and was subject to “random searches”. Did I mention my son is 7? It’s gotten ridiculous. I could see if he tried to hold up the entire school, but really, 10 days suspended because he brought a cap gun and showed a couple of boys from his backpack.

  15. It’s a good thing we’re never going to need any of these little boys to become soldiers.

  16. The only “guns” that existed in my childhood were waterguns, we tended to think of the kids who *had* used real guns as rednecks, and *still* I think that’s a bit silly. Just because I happen to agree that easy access to firearms leads to an increase in violent crime (largely because the facts support this) doesn’t mean that a depiction of guns should be banned! To me that sounds a bit like removing children from all exposure to alcohol and then expecting them to treat it responsibly when they turn 18!

    But I’d much rather sit on the “make love, not war” side of the fence. One is a healthy part of life (made healthier with comprehensive sex ed.). One is a waste of life, and usually a hotbed of backwards ideology. The choice seems obvious.

  17. Someone above mentioned the ban of history, I was having the same thought. I’m not at all a fan of guns, but this is a bit of a stretch. I mean, stop and think of the past and PRESENT of this country and our use of weapons. I hardly think this hat is going to be the thing to trigger a child into the wrong direction. Wouldn’t it have been better to have used this hat as a teaching opportunity, to have the child get up tell his story, etc?

  18. BrianJ, I’m in favor of a balanced view of reality being shown to my kids. Including age-appropriate, realistic information on sex, war, and so on. My point was that the school policies are not balanced. The arguments given for ever-expanding sex education basically conclude that detailed sex information is needed because sex is real life, and it is best for kids to be fully aware of real life. But guns are not real life?

    My kids don’t watch TV but they have seen Jesus Christ, Superstar and similar movies, which have raised many types of questions (on violence, sex, theater vs. real life, etc.) that I am happy to answer for my kids. I do not like the idea of unbalanced, unrealistic views of violence being shown to kids who don’t know enough to realize they are exaggerated. But knowing guns is a completely different matter. My dad had at least a dozen guns in the house when I was growing up, some of which he used for hunting (and we would eat what he killed), others of which were collector’s items. Aside from the obvious fact that there is a brief trauma involved in harvesting any meat (do children even know this nowadays?), my dad was (is) hardly a violent person. The idea that his grandkids’ schools are teaching such a perverted view of guns is really sad. I wonder if they think Grandpa is a bad guy after all since he likes guns?

  19. I was worried once this year, when our 10-year-old had a project to dress as a historical figure. She chose Alexander the Great. As we were putting together her costume, I was a little worried about the toy sword she was going to wear in her belt. (The helmet was a tin-foil covered Darth Vader helmet.)

    Luckily, the school didn’t complain.

    Still, it’s a sad day when you even have to worry about things like that.

  20. For the record, I’m not a big fan of war, LOL. But a knowledge of history (I should say, an accurate knowledge) is the best way to reduce the risks of mankind making the same mistakes over and over again. (Though the older I get, the more cynical I get about certain cycles ever ending.)

  21. Zero Tolerance = Magical Thinking

    Wiki:
    In clinical psychology, magical thinking is a condition that causes the patient to experience irrational fear of performing certain acts or having certain thoughts because they assume a correlation with their acts and threatening calamities.

  22. I’ve been waiting for this to show up. I’m in Rhode Island – this has been all over local talk radio for two days now. The class was asked to come up with hats as a scavenger hunt kind of thing – they have pen pals in a nearby school, and they were going to identify each other by their hats. The teacher thought this particular hat was inappropriate because of the solider’s guns – the principal agreed, his hat was sent home. The mother (who is an amazingly level-headed woman) called to find out why because she had no clue and the boy didn’t really know, and met with the teacher and principal. They told the mother the policy, she argued, they stated it is zero tolerance for guns and the soldiers had guns. The mother went home and found one soldier with binoculors, but they are soldiers already….there is actually an army general arguing for the boy.

    The mother didn’t make a stink about it with the media. She gave several interviews, and her point is that it is a class project, and it is not a toy or a weapon – obvious gray area in the policy and common sense should rule. She also points out, though, that she has to teach her son to respect those that make the rules and the rules that they make, regardless – otherwise there would be complete anarchy. I was pretty amazed listening to her – I would NOT have been so kind LOL. Her big thing was that the boy felt that he had done something wrong by making this hat – and he didn’t. He did a wonderful tribute to the armed forces.

    anyway…no time to look it up but the local paper is http://www.projo.com

  23. Hi Lenore!
    Just to say that FRK is absolutely great and necessary!!!
    Hugs from Spain!

  24. Just last week I went into a toy shop, asking for a Prince costume (prince as in “your highness”, not the artist-formerly-known-as). My son (4 yo) asked for one with a nice, shiny sword to slay dragons. The lady at the counter told me they had no swords: “dragons’ll just have to fall dead on their own”. She did have a nice Musketeer one. But it was swordless, too.
    So now D’Artagnan must beat the King’s enemies by spitting at them, or what???

  25. And just to reinforce Aaron’s point, arguing about whether a knowledge of or interaction with guns is healthy for a child is completely beside the point (though not a bad discussion to have in another context), because inch-long pieces of solid plastic shaped like guns ARE NOT GUNS.

  26. The community took up for him and he has been awarded a medal.

    A Rhode Island boy whose school banned a hat he made because the toy soldiers on it carried tiny guns was awarded a medal on Friday for his patriotic efforts.

    Lt. Gen. Reginald Centracchio, the retired head of the Rhode Island National Guard, gave 8-year-old David Morales a medal called a challenge coin during an appearance on WPRO-AM’s John DePetro show.
    From

    http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2010/06/18/361816rirmyhatbanned_ap.html?r=691653786

    Just to note – this kid would not have gotten in trouble at my school, unless he did not remove it indoors. We don’t allow hats indoors except on special dress up days.

  27. “Now I don’t believe in guns either.”

    But Eric, I’ve seen them – they exist!😛

  28. pretty soon they’ll be saying that REAL soldiers can’t have guns…come on!

  29. Oh good grief, that’s just nuts. Glad to hear the community stepped up to his defense.

    It did remind me of when my son’s teacher discussed with me the ‘serious problem’ of the boys playing guns on the playground. She was talking about kindergarten boys pretend shooting each other with their fingers while running around outside! Who cares?! (Pretend monster play is also verboten. Just another reason it’s a hard time to be a boy in this country.)

  30. I appear to be too stupid to figure out how to email you directly (my mom only breastfed me for 3 weeks, afterall), but I wanted to direct you to this article from the NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/17/fashion/17BFF.html

    Apparently best friends are to be discouraged. But not to worry – “Friendship Coaches” have been hired to help every kid become friends with everyone.

    The last paragraph is a winner:

    “Still, school officials admit they watch close friendships carefully for adverse effects. “When two children discover a special bond between them, we honor that bond, provided that neither child overtly or covertly excludes or rejects others,” said Jan Mooney, a psychologist at the Town School, a nursery through eighth grade private school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. “However, the bottom line is that if we find a best friend pairing to be destructive to either child, or to others in the classroom, we will not hesitate to separate children and to work with the children and their parents to ensure healthier relationships in the future.” “

  31. Ridiculous! I have a son and I’ve pretty much given up on having him not play with toy guns. Boys make everything into guns — sticks, rulers, their fingers. My son fashioned a “machine gun” out of some of the sticks and balls from his crazy fort set. I was concerned about all this “violence” until I looked online and found it’s perfectly developmentally normal for boys to like toy guns and to play “good guys vs. bad guys” games. It has more to do with their developing sense of justice than wanting to cause harm or be violent.

  32. A few years ago a friend and I went to Chinatown in Los Angeles and bought some pencil boxes of some popular kids’ characters as we wanted to give them out as gifts. I bought some for another friend’s niece, who was starting kindergarten that year, but I still opened the clear plastic package to see the inside of the pencil cases. Luckily I did check the inside of the cases as these turned out to be bootleg items as a popular character with little girls was brandishing a huge gun instead of her usual magic wand. My friend and I had a good laugh about it, but we took out the little trays out of the cases as they all had the same picture on them. I guess someone in a Chinese factory found some fan art online, and decided to post the picture on the inner trays of the pencil cases.

    I could imagine the stir that would have happened if my other friend’s niece had innocently opened her pencil case in class on her very first day of school ( if I hadn’t taken out the “offensive” picture).

  33. Appauling.

    “Apparently, the principal said he would not object to the boy’s patriotic hat if the little plastic soldiers simply were not carrying weapons.”

    First of all, I can see it now. According to the principal, wars are better fought without guns (let alone our side), and see how our soldiers can survive, especially if a kid was inspired by our great forces. And let’s tell the kid that all soldiers must die to protect us if all soldiers never had guns in their line of work.

    As much as I try to understand the state of society, the war, child protection, and everything, but how can you equate a few toys glued on to a hat to show patriotism for our troops as inspiration somehow equates him to being the next columbine kid? Is it just me or is there a huge disconnect in logic and reasoning mixed with such stupidity and idiotsy?

  34. Dot Khan, said: “To be fully zero tolerance, they’ll have disallow pictures or even mention guns. That means history will have to be eliminated from the curriculum.”

    They’ve already done that. Why do you think it’s now called “social studies”?

  35. Yet another reason we home-school – we can study real history, and play with all the guns – toy or real -that we want…
    and just in case you are thinking that I am one of those christian conservative home-schoolers – I’m not. I fall a little left of central. I just believe in some realism in bringing up my kids.

  36. I read this on Yahoo today and thought it would probably end up here on FRK. But AMBER that link you sent was astounding and even more disheartening. I still have some of the same best friends I grew up with.

  37. I’m actually a bit surprised the kid wasn’t suspended. A friend of my son’s was hauled into the principal’s office when, in 4th grade, he drew a *picture* of a gun on the cover of his report on the state of Texas. And a nearby high school went into lockdown a couple of weeks ago because one student showed another an Airsoft rifle he had in his trunk. That student confessed and was immediately arrested–I don’t know if the case has been resolved yet. I’d be too worried to allow my child to bring a plastic army guy to school, with or without a gun, for any reason.

    Nutso, isn’t it?

  38. We tried to raise our sons without toy weapons. And when they were small we didn’t have TV. Imagine our shock, just a little less than the shock of our guest, when one of the 3 yo twins ran past with my T-Square and hacked on his legs yelling, “Chop, chop, chop.” Our guest remarked, as they passed on in their game, “a shooting would make a quicker, cleaner death.” These days our twins, in their spare time, run youth groups for service and teach peaceful attitudes. Some of the worlds greatest environmentalists have been able to live off the land ie hunt, trap, kill. The wise educator brings the idea of the child to the fore, praises when praiseworthy, provides alternative view when less than praiseworthy, but even with a little horror (of course I mean, darling) avoids preaching and humiliation. But to be a wise educator, one must live in the community.

  39. If our pleasantly bubble-wrapped society ever fails, we’re going to have people dying all over the place because they’re not going to know how to feed themselves since they will not understand the use of weapons, nor how to grow their own food.

    This story is just disgusting.

  40. I enlisted in the military after my school principal accused me of being a “communist”. He’d listened over the intercom as I delivered an anti (Viet Nam) war speech in speech class.

    I was an anti war person but felt obligated to “ask what you can do for your country”.

    I was on board with the “not giving my boys guns to play with” sentiments that followed the bitter end of that war.

    Then one day it was announced that ” The Gulf War” was about to commence. Everyone was cheering and hooraying like it was a High School football rivalry!

    I realized one day my boys could be handed a real gun and told to fight a real war whether they wanted to or not – just as their father had to.

    I took them to Wal-mart to buy cap shooters that afternoon.

    They are both past 18 years old, but I still get terse reminders in the mail for them to sign up for selective service, or they can’t renew a driver’s license if they haven’t signed up for selective service ( they both did on their 18th birthdays).

    My son in law is a Marine who was serving in Afghanistan when his daughter, my first grandchild, was born last August.

    The staff presumed my daughter was an unwed mother when I accompanied her to classes and the delivery room. I wanted to explain to each disproving face “Her HUSBAND is serving in Afghanistan” but she adamately insisted it was no one’s business, she was proud of her husband and did not want sympathy or pity.

    The photo of the boy proudly wearing his ‘army guy’ hat brought tears to my eyes. It says “Thank You for your service” most sincerely.

  41. I was going to wear a hat with little plastic school principals on it, but could not figure out how to do so without appearing as if I was a sicko….you see, none of the little plastic figurines had HEADS.

  42. I have 1 son (almost 9 and going into 3rd grade) and I’ve tried to avoid getting him guns. Not that it mattered much. He can make anything into a gun, starting with his sister’s Barbies and moving to his train tracks being rifles. Sigh. And the neighborhood boys like to loan them their squirt guns, nerf guns and cap guns.

    But he does have a huge collection of little green plastic army men (that just have to shoot at each other). Sad and scary to think he could be suspended or in trouble at school because he left an army guy in his back pack after an outing or something.

  43. Zero tolerance for any type of gun in school, guess they’re going to be cutting my son’s finger off next year!!!!!!!!

  44. And in a few short years when this boy turns 18 years old, our government will ask him and his peers to enlist in the armed forces, where they will learn how to use real guns, tanks and bombs. Lovely.

  45. Gary: win.

  46. Someone may have posted this already (if they did, sorry for the repeat!) and I can’t necessarily vouch for the validity of this since it came from my brother, but my brother told me the kid was awarded some kind of medal for his bravery and patriotism. I’m not an advocate of guns either, but seriously!? Ay ay ay…

  47. And SgtMom, you have one helluva daughter. I’d feel the same way too, being in those classes and wanting to tell them that my daughter’s HUSBAND was serving his country and that’s why he wasn’t here. Whether we like guns or not, I think we can all agree that we do like our freedom…I just wish more people were a bit more aware and respectful of those who have made sacrifices for it.

  48. My son’s class had a medieval feast at school last week and he dressed an anrcher ~ you guessed it, without a bow and arrows because *weapons* aren’t allowed. So silly.

  49. When my sister was in 3rd grade, she fashioned a crude bow-and-arrow out of sticks and string, brought it to school, and aimed it jokingly at the teacher when her back was turned. Someone tattled, so what did the teacher do? She came up to my sister, confiscated the contraption, asked “do these sticks enchant you?” broke them and threw them in the garbage. After school, we all had a good laugh about the “enchant you” comment and moved on.

    We ridiculed that 3rd grade teacher, but in retrospect, she was a genius compared to the educators of today.

  50. I’m a bit fed up with ‘zero tolerance’ policies at school as well. Read this story the other day and felt bad for this kid. It’s not like he showed up at school with a toy AK-47, for crying out loud! Those li’l plastic soldiers have been around since forever, and if anyone finds them violent, I feel sorry for them. I thought his hat was a nice tribute to our troops. (Bravo to his mom for handling the controversy so gracefully.)

    I’m also aware of the ‘no weapons with Halloween costumes’ policy as well — our school system does not allow swords, etc. to be brought in when the kids dress for the school Halloween parade.

    A few mentioned how they did not allow their boys to play with guns/weapon-type toys, yet boys find a way to fashion their own weaponry from sticks, etc. — very true, this. My now 14 y.o. nephew did not have toy guns, etc. as a child, but boys being boys, he and his friends thought nothing of having ‘sword fights’ with sticks. (We cracked up when Paul came swinging out with a stick at my husband and saying, “I’m gonna kill you!” at age 4.)

    Over the years, Paul has learned to shoot guns with my dad (target practice), made an old-fashioned slingshot with my husband (both had fun playing with this), and has become an enthusiast of WWII military history (also thanks to my dad) and plays sports like hockey and lacrosse — does this make him a violent person? Far from it– Paul is also interested in a myriad of other things, and is a very thoughtful, interesting, and likeable young man, both with adults and his peers.

  51. So what do soldiers actually carry, if not guns, grenades and other weapons? Shall we fool kids into thinking war does NOT involve killing? Whatever happeed to accuracy and explaining the real world to our children, instead of a sanitized version? Sheesh.

  52. Thank you, Kelly. I DO have a helluva a daughter. I am in awe and have a deep respect for all spouses of our military members.

    I was very young and single when I served, so I wasn’t really aware of how difficult it is to maintain a military marriage.

    Marriage is difficult enough in the best of circumstances, but longs absences, difficulties with communications during those absences (my son in law was unable to call until three days after his daughter was born) and just everyday pressures (a military member is responsible if a spouse gets a speeding ticket!)

    Many people were wonderful, God love them, but many others were insensitive if not outright cruel(expressing anti war distain to a pregnant woman who’s husband is in a war zone tops my personal list).

    I’ve come to rethink my own anti gun views in recent years.

    “Those who hammer their swords into plowshares end up serving those who didn’t”

    Those were the sentiments of our forefathers who made such tremendous sacrifices for their beliefs. It’s tragic to see those sacrifices being sold out for the false sense of ‘safety’ we now delude ourselves with.

    “Those who give up freedom for safety end up with neither”

    I am not an anti gun person anymore.

  53. Actually, maybe the lesson is that there is no such thing as war. Warming, yes, but not war. Totally a figment of the right’s imagination.

  54. I am equally appalled by the actions taken against the child for his display of patriotism. Plastic toy soldiers are a toy just about every boy has had going back to when plastic was first invented. To cite them as dangerous in any way is ludicrous.

    Ok, with that out of the way, now I just have to comment on Eric’s post about “not believing” in guns. Seriously? You don’t believe in guns? Well, ok, but you know what? That thug in line behind you at the gas station believes in them, and that gives him the advantage when he pulls it on helpless little you to rob you not only of your money but your sense of safety. If guns were outlawed, who would have them? Outlaws. Do you really think you’d be safe then? Think again. I am a woman who is proud to say that I have a CPL and the ability to protect myself, my children, and my property if necessary. As my children grow older, they will also be taught safe firearm use. Guns are tools – they shouldn’t be feared, nor should their use be dictated by morons with a skewed sense of right and wrong. Okay, off of my soapbox.

  55. “Those who hammer their swords into plowshares end up serving those who didn’t”

    Tell that to Gandhi!

  56. “Many people were wonderful, God love them, but many others were insensitive if not outright cruel(expressing anti war distain to a pregnant woman who’s husband is in a war zone tops my personal list).”

    THIS is a sentiment that I’ll never understand, In general, people who are against unjust wars just want your loved one to come home alive.

  57. A retired National Guard member commended him for remembering the veterans….

    http://www.projo.com/video/?z=y&nvid=414576

  58. OMG!!!! Toy soldiers… with GUNS!!! We’re all gonna die!!!!!!

    Our bubble wrap society FAILS. When will it end???

  59. Toy soldier…what about sex toy soldier….hahahahah lol

  60. They should have just gotten Spielberg to change the guns carried by the toy soldiers into walkie talkies, like he did in ET . . .problem solved.

  61. “Actually, maybe the lesson is that there is no such thing as war.”

    Or better yet, that if we pretend it doesn’t exist, it will go away. That usually works well.

  62. Amber, thanks for that link. oh. my. gawd. That’s possibly the most depressing story i’ve ever read! On the other hand, i did jot down the name of the summer camp mentioned, and can assure you my son will *not* be going there!

  63. The stupid thing about Amber’s link is that they’re making friendship into a bad thing, when all they would have to do is teach/discourage the kids from being mean (meaning overtly mean, or just unkind) to the others. “Just because Jonny is your friend doesn’t mean you can be mean to Stevie” makes sense. “Don’t get to be too good friends with Jonny because that will make you mean to Stevie” is absurd. It implies that the the child has no choices concerning Stevie once the friendship is formed, and makes the positive relationship, rather than the ancillary bad behavior, the threat. Why not just discourage the bad behavior, instead of trying to psychologically and socially micromanage the kids?

    Way to teach the kids to form and manage healthy relationships for the long-term — discourage them and make them the enemy.

  64. At the risk of taking this a little too far, this seems like it could even be an (unintended) setup for abusive relationships. If kids are (implicitly) taught that a close, intense relationship inherently makes you neglectful of others, rather than being taught that with effort, a healthy relationship permits positive relations without outsiders even when it’s intense, it’s a perfect setup for a woman to chuck all healthy relationships when Mr. Abusive Perfect who doesn’t want her to have any friends comes along, because after all, we CAN’T manage both one intense and other positive relationships at the same time, can we? (I framed it as an abused woman situation because that’s the most common manifestation, but it could cut all kinds of ways.)

  65. SKL – you wrote: I’m in favor of a balanced view of reality being shown to my kids. Including age-appropriate, realistic information on sex, war, and so on. My point was that the school policies are not balanced.

    I’m with you entirely on that.

    you also wrote: “The arguments given for ever-expanding sex education basically conclude that detailed sex information is needed because sex is real life, and it is best for kids to be fully aware of real life. ”

    I’m not sure that I agree with the premise. I haven’t seen ever expaning sex ed being taught in public schools. What I have seen is that sex-ed is none existent until 5th grade (that’s fine), and then what is offered seems to be an age appropriate supplement to what I will/have teach/taught my kids. But we probably aren’t in the same school district, so what my kids see is likely different than what your kids would see if you sent em to public schools.

    And finally: “But guns are not real life?” Of course guns are real life. For many urban public school kids, guns and gun violence, are all too familiar a parts of real life. Remember that in a rural setting, there is a useful and/or playful use for guns. Hunting and target shooting are real and appropriate activities for kids (supervised). The same does not hold for urban environments. So the very meaning of a gun in the hand of a child is very different in an urban environment than in a rural environment.

    The whole desire to protect kids from guns comes from the desire to make school safe. In an urban environment, a gun’s only legit purpose is to defend oneself from the threat of violence from another person. This is not something that we want our children to have to deal with. Also, remember that a police officer’s worse nightmare is to shoot a child who points a toy gun at him. So keeping pretend guns out of the hands of kids in urban schools is also a protective reflex.

    Where the policy has completely gone off the rails is where you add zero tolerance and remove judgement. My sons gigantic blue plastic super soaker is pretty obviously not a threat. His friend’s life sized Airsoft AK47 looks freakishly real. Both are toys. One can get a kid killed.

    Of course, rural, urban or anywhere in between, little green soldiers are not dangerous.

  66. “Just because I happen to agree that easy access to firearms leads to an increase in violent crime (largely because the facts support this.”

    No, you probably “largely believe” it because it is largely your prejudice to believe it. In fact, the facts don’t support this assumption. The facts indicate just the opposite: that, on average, locales with liberal gun control laws have less violent crime than locales with strict gun control laws. (For an in-depth statistical study, read More Guns, Less Crime.)

    I think it’s quite obvious that the intention of “zero tolerance” gun rules that extend to prohibiting toy soldiers, drawing toy guns, or forming a gun with your fingers during recess (something my 6 year old daughter was reprimanded for doing) is to send the message to young children that anyone who owns or uses guns is immoral for doing so, regardless of their reason for owning or using guns. Our children are being indoctrinate in a very specific moral value: “Personal gun ownership is immoral. Gun use is immoral. Period.”

    Imagine if we went around telling children they could not pretend to be doctors, or play with a toy stethoscope. We would clearly be implying that there is something morally wrong with being a doctor or possessing a stethoscope.

    This is not a matter of safety nuts gone awry. It has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with moral ideology and the indoctrination of a particular moral viewpoint.

  67. I didn’t go through every post, but the school has relented on allowing the hat. They are looking at a way to “fix the rule”. I can’t find the news article again, but if I do, I’ll post the rather lame reply from the school.

  68. Have lost patience with the idocy of “zero tolerance”. Have our PC schools gotten around to banning depictions of the Minuteman statue, reproductions of Joe Rosenthal’s “Flag Raising on Iwo Jima” yet? OMG, those men have–gasp!–guns. And even handgrenades.

  69. I’m afraid you’ve run so far from the crazies on one side of the question that you’ve landed square in the middle of the crazies on the other side of the question. Alarmism by both liberals and conservatives is a rhetorical technique meant to sway others through emotion, not sense.

    Think: Banning toy guns does not mean not teaching history. It’s a reasonable choice for a school board, given escalating school violence.

    Think: Teaching about the necessary wars, or by law enforcement, or the positive aspects of hunting — all good and necessary things that guns bring us — isn’t the same as letting 8-year old bullies wave guns around to intimidate their friends.

    Think: Policies that ban toy guns aren’t in place to keep real guns out of the school — they’re there to educate about violence. These policies ban light sabers and fake swords and all manner of fantasy weapons, too.

    Think: Yes, it’s silly for an educational policy to ban toy soldiers, especially as construed as a respectful hat honoring those who most deserve it. But school boards paint with a broad brush — I’d have a hard time wording a policy that would allow “respectful” displays of toy guns while still fulfilling the educational goal of reducing violence.

    Y’all on both sides — please stop running to the fringes of debate. It’s toxic to our country. If you can’t see *anything* reasonable about people who disagree with you, you’re part of the problem.

  70. It’s a cute hat. The kid put in effort, and was apparently inspired by meeting someone he looked up to (I haven’t read the article).

    One of my brother’s prized possessions was a real “army-hat” given to him by a soldier when he was about 7 or 8. Toy soldiers I felt was a good compromise (I didn’t like giving him toy guns until he was old enough to be taught to use guns properly). Water pistols are of course allowed😉
    This same brother has wanted for years now to join the military. One day he may well be defending this country. What if he was told toy soldiers or his precious “army-hat” were bad/forbidden/dangerous?

    Toy soldier.
    Choking hazard? Maybe.
    Poke-eye-out-risk? Maybe.
    But a weapon (gun)? You have got to be joking.

  71. To sum up.

    COMMON SENSE MUST PREVAIL!
    (Please!)

  72. Sad state of affairs to say the least. Right now my 2 1/2 year old isn’t into guns (yet) but he uses just about anything as a sword, be it a plastic water bottle or a stick. He’s even disarmed his dad once “sword fighting”. Of course we’re also part of the Society for Creative Anachronisms (a medieval re-enactment group) so he’s around it all the time.

    I’m sure I’ll have lots of dealings with the school when get gets older too be it guns, swords or him speaking out about historical events, especially those of the Native American type.

  73. I know this is late, but I gotta respond to BrianJ. He says the only reason to have guns in an urban setting is basically to be ready to shoot people. NOT TRUE! We lived in a large city when I was a kid and my dad had lots of guns. NONE of them were in our home for the purpose of protection! Sportsmen can live in the city as well as in the country. Would you say that because there are no baseball fields on Main Street, the only purpose of owning a baseball bat on Main Street would be to bash someone’s head in? Come on, think a little.

  74. teach good subject to child, to make them great person. maybe that can show your main message about the post.

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