Outrage of the Day: Boy Suspended for Nerf Gun

Hi Readers — Onto more toothsome matters tomorrow. But in the meantime, for your tearing-your-hair-out pleasure, we bring you this story of Zero Tolerance. What I love about it is the genius reasoning on the part of the principal, Candice Reese:

“It’s not too harsh of a punishment and we want to make sure all of our students are safe,” Reese said.

Because…they weren’t safe with a 6-year-old with a Nerf gun at recess? — L

66 Responses

  1. Every day, me and a 6 yr old and 8 yr old have epic nerf gun battles on the second floor of their brownstone. The rules are highly complex and we take it seriously. We are also cracking up throughout the entire time. Battles last at least an hour long each day. It is more fun than anything else in life… especially for an old kid like me.

  2. That’s just… filthy. A suspension from school is a very serious thing, and goes on your permenant academic record. It can certainly make you less employable when looking for a job during high school, andcan cause you to become excluded from joining extracurricular activites that look good on the CV later on.

    He is SIX. He doesn’t know any better. Or rather, he DOES know better and his little six-year-old brain can’t comprehend the idea of serious punishment for something that is neither dangerous nor offensive nor particularly disruptive.

    God the public school system is a useless, inbred, twisted piece of crap, here and over there.

  3. 99.99% of the time, I agree with you whole heartedly, but I know that at the school I did my student teaching in, we had one kid suspended for a day and asked to give a formal apology to each class for bringing it and the reason why we don’t bring toy guns to school. At first, I could not even believe how over-the-top this was for a second grader.

    Until I learned later that he had an ongoing, absolutely out of control feud with another student so much that they had to be kept to separate playgrounds lest they beat the life out of each other, and he had brought the gun to point at this student and threaten him. I mean, this kid is normally a pretty good kid. I don’t know a ton of details, but I do know that the punishment was suitable.

    Some of our kids ARE a little… “off”… already. I don’t think they should even make toy guns, to be honest. And I’m usually absolutely all about the “free-range” idea and all of its extensions. I think I agree with zero tolerance on weapons.

    I do NOT however agree with typical zero tolerance, such as here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/12/education/12discipline.html

  4. @ Brittany – In cases like these, it is the “little off” student that needs to be managed and monitored, not toys or other largely harmless objects.

    In the situation you described, those children have something wrong with them, which will carry on until it is resolved. This feud is not caused or fuelled by any sort of weapons. So what if one of them threatens the other with a toy gun? It’s a harmless prop. He’s not going to be able to shoot and kill the other student with a toy. He is also perfectly capable of making dire threats without the aid of any props.

    The apology should not have been made for bringing the toy, but rather, from bringing himself. The child is the dangerous part of this equation, not the harmless toy. A real gun is of course an entirely different matter.

    I’m also not too sure I agree with your second point – that six year old brought a real knife to school. If that knife happens to be suitably sharp enough (probably not, but if it WAS), it has real potential to hurt somebody, potential which a toy would never have. Six-year-olds are clumsy, unwise, and ruled by the heart rather than the head. Would you want to have your child taking a knife to school, where there are feuds and tempers flaring from time to time? I sure as hell wouldn’t.

    Always, it has to be taken into account what the object is, what it is intended for, and what it is capable of. In my final years of high school I took a knife to school fairly often – index-finger-length, serrated, rounded end. It was excellent for cutting pretty well any kind of fruit or vegetable or meat – I baked cakes and shared them with my friends, using that knife. It was, and this is important, not stabby in the slightest. The only way I could have done someone a serious injury with that knife would be if they stood still and let me saw at their arm with it. Real, functioning knife? Yes. Useable as a weapon? No. These are the sorts of things people should be looking at, rather than laying down a blanket ban that causes stupid incidents like this.

    Above all of this, it is vitally important that all children are taught from an early age how to differentiate between reality and fiction/play/stories/etc. This sort of behaviour? Only helping to blur that distinction.

  5. @Sera

    I dunno. I still remember being in elementary and kids who were “playing” would point toy guns at each other all the time and say “I don’t like you, I wish you were dead”.

    This was not overly unusual, and not done by kids who were “off”. The case I cited that I personally witnessed as an adult, yeah, it was a monitored situation, but what about the normal kids who are “just kidding” and “just playing?”

    Adding a toy gun just brings a whole new dimension of messed up to bullying and playground dynamics. I don’t think kids should PLAY with toy guns. The whole concept is screwy. I think it’s absolutely unnecessary and that schools are right to prohibit it.

    I dunno. Just THINK about it. Guns have only one designed purpose. Why are we making models of them for our kids to play with. It’s seriously messed. I don’t want them pointed at my future children at school. Just sayin’. It’s all kinds of wrong.

  6. Sorry for the double post (Can you edit these?) but I guess my point is that I think for knives, you should look at intent and even the plausibility of danger. Toy guns, on the other hand, are just a screwed up concept in my mind, and I still remember being 8 and thinking it was messed up when a kid would say “bang, bang, you’re dead”.

    tl;dr: I don’t like toy guns.

  7. […] Read the original: Outrage of the Day: Boy Suspended for Nerf Gun […]

  8. Hi

    My just turned 2 son is extremely outgoing. He will talk to and win over just about anyone. We stopped at a buffet for dinner tonight and the family at the table next to us just fell for him. So I took inspiration from your book about connecting with other people to foster community and asked if they would keep an eye on him while I ran up and got more food for us. They were thrilled. I was able to actually get food without a fussing toddler, and he was able to keep eating. When we were getting ready to leave, the mother thanked me for letting her watch him.

    I also wanted to share this blog post with you. http://simplemom.net/prepare-your-kids-early-for-adulthood
    It’s about providing opportunities early for your kids to be independent, to make their own choices, to learn problem solving, as well as the benefits to making mistakes.

  9. hmmm. Having grown up in a generation of toy-gun weilding kids, I distinctly remember the stats for school violence at the time were pretty slim.
    Seems to me that toy guns had nothing to do with it. We were just busy little mirrors of the society we lived in, us kids.
    Says a lot about the society we live in now.
    We’re…..losing something, slowly and surely.
    And whatever that is – the kids have very little to do with it.
    On the other hand, I’d say the big people have everything to do with it.
    Like it or not, violence produces an awful lot of profit.
    Something to think about.

    On the other hand, after reading the blurb, what I want to know is how a school principal got that job and earns that dough without the brains to know how to properly discipline a kid. It’s sort of academic really, and part of the process of social instruction, to point out to a kid what is inappropriate behavior……without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
    “Zero Tolerance” is an excellent camouflage to hide the fact that you haven’t got two brain cells to rub together, cannot think on your feet, properly mediate or apply policy in an intelligent manner, or behave in an otherwise thinking rational human manner.

    ………but maybe that’s the plan, Stan. They want to give all the good jobs to robots, anyway. (they work real cheap.)

  10. I think toy guns have a positive effects. All the frustration you let go in a nerf gun fight will not come up if one of those kids ever come across a real gun.

  11. My boys both have toy guns…. their father kills for food, and they imitate him. They know guns can be dangerous, so they aren’t ever allowed to point them at people. If they do, the toy guns go in the cupboard.

    I think this is ridiculous!!! Suspending a 6 year old? How crazy!

  12. He was suspended because he didn’t bring enough nerf guns and ammo for the entire school. The principal was just playing fair. Either bring enough for everyone or don’t bring them at all. >.<

    Seriously tho – our son isn't allowed to play with his nerf gun here. The rest of us don't have them! Do you honestly think I'd let him run around this place without making sure the rest of us had the same capability he had?

  13. @Brittany – I certainly understand and respect your point of view, although I don’t quite follow it.

    I hate real guns. I believe that you are certainly right in thinking that they only have one (horrifying) purpose.

    Toy guns are a completely different matter. There is certainly such a thing as a “friendly” game where kids “shoot” each other for fun and with mutual consent (whereas not, I think, such a thing as a “friendly shoot” with a real one…).

    The idea of toy guns being used as a threat is, for me, absurd. When I was that age nobody did that. Why would they? If they hated me they did something far more effectual, usually along the lines of trying to push me down the stairs, stealing and/or destroying my things, or hell, just plain punching me.

    I do agree with you that a kid pointing a toy gun at another and saying “I wish you were dead” is somewhat disturbing, but my line of thinking is this: The disturbing part of the picture is one eight-year-old saying “I wish you were dead” to another. Props are not necessary to convey this message. Removing the “gun” from the equation does not make it much less disturbing. Nor does it make the situation any less dangerous.

  14. To be honest, I don’t think it’s all that outrageous- it’s only a one-day suspension, and while I think suspension from school is a silly way to enforce discipline in general, if the rule is that facsimile weapons are not allowed, that needs to be enforced.

    What I did find disturbing about the story was the principal’s assertion that the faculty serves as parents to these children. Creepy.

  15. Did he have nerf bullets?

  16. I really dislike real guns, believe the 2nd Amendment’s original intent was not that we all be allowed to have whatever degree of assault weaponry we like, and don’t want my kids anywhere around real ones (although I do respect people who use guns for hunting and teach their children appropriate use of them).

    That said, my 9 year old has a serious cache of Nerf and water guns and enjoys the heck out of them, which I see nothing wrong with. In fact, one of the reasons I have gotten okay with Nerf guns is that they are so obviously NOT real – they are all brightly colored with foam darts. Same goes for the water guns – funnily shaped, brightly colored.

    I also have a kindergartner, and can entirely see how she might, like the boy who was suspended, decide it was a good idea to take something to school without realizing it was forbidden or why. The way to deal with that is a DISCUSSION on the school’s part. Does anyone think this kid learned from the suspension? He knew he was in trouble because of the trip to the principal’s office – that’s all it would take! Beyond that, he got what in his mind was probably a reward – a day off, hurray!

    I fully agree with those who said that in cases where kids are fighting with others or are saying “I wish you were dead” that’s an issue of the child, not the toy. And at the age of 6, you need to deal with the troubled behavior through assessment and therapy if you intend to change it.

  17. In 4th grade at my private school (1994) we all brought water guns into school for a class activity of a water fight. Man… nerf guns banned? That’s not even teaching the kids anything. It’s just saying Fear everything, don’t learn how to reason out what is good and what is actual danger.

  18. If we’re worried about kids pointing toy guns at each other, we better scour the playground for sticks because many kids will point sticks at each other and pretend they are guns too (particularly sticks that can be broken down to make a gun-like shape.)

    And we’d better figure out how stop children from making a gun-shape with their hands– maybe splints to keep them from folding three fingers back at the same time that their point and thumb are outstretched? Because that too is a gun shape and “threatening.”

    Kids have been playing guns, war, etc for ages now, long before TV and movies glorified it (even more.) The problem I think is the kids thinking that that’s the best way to deal with conflict. Conflict resolution apparently is not part of parenting anymore… more of the “don’t let anyone tell you not to be REAL” and “If you don’t like the way I am, don’t talk to me” bull crap instead.

  19. I am fairly anti-gun when it comes to real guns. I don’t buy a lot of the ‘self defense’ arguments, and I’m a vegetarian who thinks hunting is rather barbaric (but hey, you want to go freeze your behind off stalking game, go to town. Or the woods. Whatever). My dad was a cop – he spent his time cleaning up the aftermath of idiots with firearms, and was fortunate to be able to retire in one piece. So real guns, never going to happen around here.

    But toy guns? Heck, I used to make zip guns with my friends in the neighborhood, and I am a deadeye with a water pistol. I spent the better part of high school playing laser tag, and I put all the cub scouts at camp to shame with my slingshot skills. And yes, I’m a girl, so it’s not necessarily just a guy thing.

    Kids shouldn’t be bringing toys to school, period. Get rid of the nerf guns, but first get rid of the cell phones, hand held gaming systems, bakugan and all the other distracting crap. The nuns in grade school would have handed me my rear end if I brought anything that even resembled a toy to school. You just didn’t do that stuff. You went to school, did your work, came home and changed out of the hideous uniform, THEN shot the neighbor with a squirt gun. Proper things at the proper time.

  20. This all falls into the “lowest common denominator” category. As many studies have shown, if you allow those in authority to use common sense judgment, you run the risk that they will insert their own racial, gender, etc. bias when making a decision.

    Zero tolerance, IMHO, isn’t about protecting our children, making the world a better place, etc. It’s about protecting very stupid people in positions of power from being held accountable for their actions. If you can say “I just followed policy” you won’t be punished (as long as you’re in a union. If you are an at-will employee, you can be fired for not using common sense, even if you are following said “rules.”)

  21. Denver doesn’t have zero tolerence anymore. The article said they changed that after the girl’s rifle incident. So this principal has some leaway on punishment and this is what she chose.

    BMS – we used to be able to bring stuff to play with during recess. I used to play jacks every day and I brought them from home. I see no problem with toys, except if they’re brought out during class time.

  22. Dean

    The debates on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are well documented. The founders intended the second amendment to insure that the average citizen had easy access to military grade weapons.

    Now, this may not be the best idea they ever had. There are rational arguments for repealing or amending the 2nd amendment. But even Professor Laurence H. Tribe, a hyper Liberal professor of constitutional law at Harvard, admits that the Amendment protects and individual Right to own weapons.

    I will have very little respect for Gun Control advocates until they face up to this and start working to Amend the Constitution. Guns are dangerous, but a Government that ignores the limitations on its power in its own Constitution is an authentic menace.

  23. I have no idea what our school’s toy gun policy is, but I do know that we have a toy policy – don’t bring them. Not worth a suspension, but it is a bad idea to bring a toy to school. One toy among 10-15 kids doesn’t work. The toy gets lost/broken or causes a battle of wills over who gets to use it. Yes, it can be a teaching moment, but that’s better left to toys that don’t belong to one kid.

  24. Usually I agree with you Lenore but I’m not outraged by this. I think the rationale of keeping kids safe is completely and totally stupid but punishing a kid for bringing something to school that he knew not to bring to school does not seem inappropriate to me. The punishment of a 1 day suspension seems excessive (but I’m not a fan os suspension as a punishment anyway) but I wouldn’t get my knickers in a twist over it if it was my child.

    Obviously, this child knew he was not to bring the toy to school because he hid it in his backpack. All toys from home are banned in my child’s preschool except on Show and Tell days (nothing to do with zero tolerance and everything to do with not wanting to sort out fights over outside toys). My prek child knows that toys are not to go to school and has occasionally tried to sneak some in. If she was suspended for a day for failing to follow a rule that she knows and understands, I would not be upset about it.

    “A suspension from school is a very serious thing, and goes on your permenant academic record. It can certainly make you less employable when looking for a job during high school, andcan cause you to become excluded from joining extracurricular activites that look good on the CV later on.”

    Give me a break! The kid is in kindergarten. No employer who has ever existed in the history of employers has ever turned a person down for employment because of a one day suspension in kindergarten. I’ve worked many places in my life since I was about 14 and I’ve never once been asked for my school discipline record back to kindergarten. He will not be excluded from high school activities – 9 years from now – because of a suspension in kindergarten. And considering our entire beta club got suspended from school for 3 days my senior year and the members went on to attend Harvard, Princeton, MIT and the Naval Academy (amongst other schools), a single suspension does not seem to destroy an otherwise stellar school career.

  25. CSPS: The debates on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are well documented. The founders intended the second amendment to insure that the average citizen had easy access to military grade weapons.

    Two thoughts: one, “founder intent” is not black and white; two, while my opinion is that they wanted citizens to access military grade weapons, it was military grade of the time, without any idea what kind of weaponry would be available now. Hence my belief that the founders did NOT, actually, want me to be able to go buy automatic weapons and cop-killer bullets.

    Individual right to own weapons does not, in my mind, mean individual right to own ANY weapons you choose.

    And I would love to see the Constitution amended in this way. I am sure most gun control advocates would be thrilled if that were at all a realistic possibility.

  26. Call the kid into the office.

    Confiscate toy.

    Say, “No toys in school. Come back and get it at 3, if I see it again, I’m going to take it home to play with myself.”

    Send chastised kid back to class.

    Call in next victim.

  27. I’m with Swain.

  28. This reminds me of the nerf gun my 7 year old got for these past holidays. We took a picture and it’s bigger than him!

  29. To add to Swain’s comments.

    If kid does it again, call the parents. If kid does it again, sit out for recess for a while. If kid does it again, then maybe a suspension. This is Kindergarten. We’re supposed to be teaching them and some kids take more time to learn than others.

    Once they hit the older grades, then you can have more serious consequences sooner, since they’re supposed to understand by then.

    That’s what bugs me about these one size fits all rulings, it assumes all the kids are the same. Yet academically, aren’t they always telling us about different learning styles? Wouldn’t that hold true for discipline? I have to discipline my kids differently, what works for one has no effect on the other one. If schools would involve the parents more, they might be able to get more parents to support them, rather than being their adversaries.

  30. I agree with Donna, or at least half-agree — there IS an outrage, but it’s not with strictly punishing a kid who did something he clearly knew was wrong according to school rules.

    The outrage is making the gun the bad guy, and claiming that banning Nerf guns does anything to “keep kids safe.” I know the subtext is that only by banning anything that remotely looks or smells like a gun can we really prevent real gun violence, but that’s still a stupid idea.

  31. Lenore, didn’t you also report on the “rifle” incident in the same school district?

  32. My kid got suspended for two days for SAYING to another kid that he had a nerf gun at home and would bring it to school and shoot him. No gun actually brought to school and all witnesses agree that he clearly said NERF GUN, (not AK47). But according to the zero tolerance policy this was “threatening another student with violence”.

  33. Oh–and this was in 5th grade, so we’re talking ten year olds.

  34. I’m sure glad I didn’t grow up in this day and age. When I was that young, me and my friends brought our toys to school almost every day. Toy soldiers with guns, posable action figures with sword or gun accessories, and yes TOY GUNS. The only rule we had in school about those, is that we weren’t allowed to play with them while we were doing actual school work. Recess or lunch time was completely acceptable. It was a great time for kids. The only time anyone got suspended was because they actually hit another student. Which was far and few.

    Banning anything for the sole purpose of AVOIDING any issues is just plain stupid. Just because you ban a toy gun doesn’t mean, your going deter any of the kids from acquiring one when they are older. You need to educate children. As in the difference between a Nerf gun and real gun. That they understand one kills the other doesn’t. And you can’t punish them for having the one that doesn’t like you would as if it did. You wouldn’t be educating, you’d be confusing them.

  35. Dean – You do know that civilians already can’t legally own fully automatic weapons, right? The most automatic a civilian can legally obtain is a semi-automatic, and all it does is kick out the spent shell and chamber the next.

    The problem with Gun Control is that it attempts to put a one-size-fits-all solution onto a complex issue. The rationale is “ban all guns so people can’t shoot each other with them.” However, not only does that hurt those who own guns for purposes other than killing others, but it doesn’t actually stop people from getting firearms (and this isn’t fact isn’t exclusive to Gun Control, but has been proven with every Prohibition type law).

    One thing I’ve noticed with the Gun Control matter is that those who are pro-Gun Control tend to be from ubran/suburban ares, while the pro-2nd Amendment folks are generally from rural areas. Now, it’s possible that at least part of that has to do with the fact that party lines tend to fall the same way, but in my experience, it’s also because the rural people actually do use firearms for purposes other than killing other humans.

    One of the biggest things I noticed when I moved from the suburbs to a rural hunting town was the prominence of firearms and firearm knowledge. How many suburbanites have actually seen (in real life), let alone used, a real firearm? Not many, relative to their rural counterparts. The idea of hating guns, in my opinion, stems from fear of the unknown, and they’re an unknown because relatively few suburbanites own firearms. I was one of those people that didn’t like guns and thought they should all be taken away, then I moved to a rural town and learned about guns as what they are – tools that should be respected. A modern, maintained gun won’t simply “go off” (and technically, an ill-maintained one is more like to not go off when fired, or worse, backfire, than just about anything else), and touching a gun won’t suddenly turn you into a psychotic serial killer, despite what many suburbanites seem to believe.

    As for the 2nd Amendment, the stated and primary intent is to protect the citizens from the government (as is the intent of the entire Constitution). The Founding Fathers believed that, in order to do that, the civilians needed to have access to the same weapons the military has access to. Now, I don’t think they could have foreseen nuclear warheads, but they did have some pretty formidable weapons in their day (and even something as “primitive” as a bow can be more dangerous/lethal than a firearm – arrows can penetrate more deeply than bullets) and I think they knew what they were doing with the amendment when it came to standard firearms.

    Everyone talks about how much firearms have changed since that time, but in actuality, they haven’t changed that much. The biggest change was going from muzzle loading to self-contained shells, which provided more consistency and eliminated the chance of the gun powder getting wet. Some are larger, some are smaller, and they can be more accurate now (assuming equally skilled hands), thanks to the shells, but the fundamental operations and mechanics of standard firearms actually haven’t changed much in the past couple of centuries. Technically speaking, they’re actually safer now than they were in Revolutionary times, because the shells eliminate (or, in the case of hand-made shells, greatly reduce) the margin of error for the mix of gun powder, batting, etc.

    Now, should people be required to take training to own a gun? I think so. Any potentially dangerous tool is even more dangerous in untrained hands. We don’t give people a driver’s license until they prove themselves for this exact reason. However, to try to take away guns from everyone isn’t effective and hurts those who use them for legal purposes.

    BMS, you might see eating meat as barbaric, but not everyone can be healthy on a veg*n diet. For example, I had to take iron pills after moving for college, because I became severely anemic after no longer having venison in my diet, despite the fact that I was consuming something like 400% the daily value for iron (most of which from plant sources), and coupling it with nearly as much vitamin C-containing food (vitamin C helps the absorption of iron). The simple fact is that killing other animals for food is a part of life for every animal that is not an herbivore (and technically, killing or harming other life is a fact of life for all animals, because even herbivores do damage to the plants they eat). The only thing that really makes us different from other animals is that we have the capability to kill our prey swiftly and humanely (which I think we have a duty to do).

  36. I didn’t say eating meat was barbaric. I think unnecessary (trophy) hunting is barbaric. If you gotta kill to eat, I get that. But if you are killing animals for a rug or a stuffed head for the wall, that seems a bit unneeded. And from a personal standpoint, if I really wanted to eat, say a duck, then I would go to the local Chinese restaurant and eat a duck, rather than sit in the swamp for hours waiting for one to come by. Hunting is just one of many expensive, tedious sports that I don’t get the appeal of. Golf is on that list too – so I am not necessarily picking on hunters.

    It is possible for both vegetarians and non vegetarians to eat unhealthy crap. I don’t actually care what other people eat. I am healthier and happier being a vegetarian, and I hate the way meat tastes, ergo, I don’t eat it. You want Bambi burgers? Go ahead. I won’t even say ‘ew’ where you can hear me.

    But back to the gun thing – it makes perfect sense, to me, to treat guns as a tool. In rural areas, where you might have to protect livestock from predators, or where hunting may be necessary to supplement diet, guns probably make sense. But in a crowded urban area, where the chances of hitting an unintended target are greater, it’s harder for me to make an argument for them. The same way you wouldn’t use power tools in a crowded room, you shouldn’t be carrying around live and loaded guns in a crowded area. They are dangerous tools, but people treat them like they are not, or that ‘I know they are dangerous but I should have the right to have them any time any where anyways.” If someone wanted to juggle a chainsaw on the subway, people would have issues. I see guns as equally dangerous in crowded public places, and as such they should be regulated such that they are used safely, by competent people, in controlled situations.

  37. As a linguist, I’ve really tried to understand what is meant by “safe” in the above statement, but to no avail: I simply don’t get it.

  38. First, the kid is 6. 6 year olds forget things. How often do his teachers go over the rules of what is allowed in school? Maybe, they went over this at the beginning of the year. More likely they sent home a huge handbook with everything from being absent to sexual harassment and if you are allowed to bring a tuba on the school bus.

    If this was the first time, he deserved a chance to be reminded of the rule, maybe principal take the toy and call the parents. If this was the second time, well, then perhaps they did the right thing.

    This makes me think of a friend of my daughter. In Kinder they had a book fair, and the mom bought a book (at the fair, held in the school library) that came with a “bug vacuum”. The bug vacuum had viewing place on one end, a trigger to activate the vacuum and a pointy end so that you could vacuum the bug. It vaguely had the same shape as a gun, in the same manner that the nerf gun in this has the same shape. When it was his turn to do show and tell, he brought this device to school. Fortunately, his mother came in with him in the morning, and when he showed the bug vacuum to the teacher, she got all upset and said it was a gun and the mother had to take it back to the car. Despite the fact that it was bought at the school, and it does the exact opposite of what a gun does – sucks instead of projects!

  39. I can’t help but think this is the PERFECT way to teach kids how to get out of going to school.
    If a kid is doing something that is against school rules,but the kids is required BY LAW to attend school, then why not make the punishment something along the lines of… cleaning the bathrooms with toothbrushes? Or something equally boring/gross-yet-safe. When a kid gets suspended, the kid goes home, stays home, and does what? IF the parent decides to impart some punishment themselves, fine, but what of the parents who work? Get the babysitter to punish them?
    A six year can wash the walls, floors, scrub the desks, peel off the chewing gum from beneath the desks, organize the library alphabetically (helps with learning the alphabet!). Just do SOMETHING that the kid wouldn’t want to do again.

  40. The thing is, most six year old actually want to please adults, and most of them think that school is still fun when they are in Kinder.

    Aside from people who come to this board, how many parents actually remind their young kids (unless they see them putting it in the bag) that they are not allowed to take toy guns, including Legos, to school.

    I think this boy forgot what the rule was because no one reminded him.

  41. Safe to me means, if you have a gun, it is locked up, with ammo stored separately, not toted around indiscriminately. Unless your job requires you to carry one, I really don’t see the need to be walking around with a loaded gun on a regular basis. If you are a hunter, or do target shooting, whatever, but your gun should still be stored and handled safely. And if you are nuts, you shouldn’t have a gun, period.

  42. ‘Zero tolerance’ sounds like another way of saying ‘intolerant’.

    With respect to parents’ duty to remind their kids about the rules…I have a first grader myself. I have to issue so many reminders about so many different things that it’s impossible to keep up with myself. I’m sure the reminders often become background noise; I’m particularly concerned that rather trivial reminders (“don’t use your fingers to push salad into your fork, please”) get comingled with extremely important reminders (“your brother’s nose is not an appropriate place to stick a marble”), particularly when my kids seem to have an amazing ability to focus on minutiae and miss big picture items. Well, because, they’re children and are getting these reminders mediated by me, not through direct experience with the world. So I’m not going to fault the parents, one bit, for any ‘failures to remind’ the child. Even if they had reminded him 15 times that morning, it’s no guarantee the child will absorb it.

    I think in essence this is what this blog and the ‘movement’, if you will, gets at. Children are much better able to learn to be self-sufficient, complete, and wise persons if they are given opportunities to have their own experiences, instead of being told, regulated, supervised, and programmed at every turn. They will make plenty of poor choices along the way, for sure, and it’s our job as parents to make the call about assuring a proper balance to avert the most serious consequences of bad choices and to simply not allow choices where those consequences are the most severe. Yet this constant wolf-crying of danger around every corner, I think, not only makes for children who are very mush-headed about what is and is not a real danger and are ill-prepared to make their own judgments when they must, it also muddles the parents’ ability to make similar informed choices. In short, it makes things more dangerous, not less so, for every child.

    I’m no fan of toy guns, our kids don’t have them, and with the hair-trigger responses some law enforcement personnel have I sadly think there is some significant danger from walking around with a toy gun these days. That does not mean a six-year old child has any conception of the rather complex societal circumstances that produce this kind of reaction to guns or weapons, particularly when we get mixed messages in American society in particular by having weapons and guns culturally prevalent, especially in the media (and of course generally available in mass quantities).

    It seems rather that the educators, or whoever was responsible for having an absolute “zero tolerance” policy, are seriously guilty of not considering the negative consequences of having a message that a nerf gun is just as bad to bring to school as a real one. It blurs the line, and a society without grey areas or a spectrum of allowable behaviors is one that is setting itself up for authoritarianism, most especially if children are taught from the earliest age that conforming with rules is more important than understanding them, participating in their construction and enforcement, and sensibly pushing back on them when they’ve gone too far.

  43. When he was in first grade (yes, around the age of 6) my oldest son told me that he needed a light saber to take to school for light saber fights on the playground. Being a public schooled kid myself and having taught in the public schools in our town I of course dismissed this as impossible.

    A few weeks later his teacher called me ***to report something GOOD that my son had done*** and I asked her if I’d missed the memo that light sabers were on the school supply list and was Evan right in saying that he could have one at school?

    Mrs. Hanson, one of the most beloved teachers in the history of the (private, Christian) school, told me that yes, Evan could indeed bring a light saber to school. They have a designated area of the playground for light saber fights. Some kids bring extras to share with their classmates and there are rules and such surrounding the light saber fighting area.

    Guess what I did later that night? I went to the store and bought a light saber. 🙂

  44. Edited to add: I don’t really understand why gun owners fight gun laws. You need to pass a test and prove you are not blind or a danger to drive a car. But you ask people to prove that they are competent to own and handle an equally deadly device, and people get all wiggy. The laws vary so much from state to state – much more than for driving laws – that there are an awful lot of loop holes, and many ways for people to legally get a gun that really shouldn’t have one. (I’m going to leave out illegal gun owners for the same reason I’m going to disregard those who drive without a license). Given that guns are not going to go away tomorrow, it seems to make sense to have them regulated.

  45. I am no fan of guns but gun laws are meaningless. You could certainly ask people to prove that they are competent to own and handle guns before allowing them to purchase one … and the same people who own guns now would own them then. I suppose some middle class suburbanites who buy guns for protection, have no business owning guns and end up shot with their own weapon might be discouraged from gun ownership if they had to prove competency before purchase. But most legitimate gun owners do, in fact, handle and store their weapons safely. Most guns used for nefarious purposes are not legally-obtained guns. Guns are readily available and cheap on the street. Crazy and want a gun? I can get you 5 at around $50 each in under an hour.

  46. I guess these kids were not safe in the same way that the high school senior’s schoolmates were unsafe when she brought a paring knife in her lunch bag with which to cut an apple.


  47. Well, cars can be stolen, bought as used beaters for a couple thousand bucks, or driven by people whose licenses are expired or revoked. So are auto laws then also useless? Just because some people break the law doesn’t mean the law shouldn’t exist, does it?

  48. BMS – Regarding hunting/eating meat: I apologize. You originally stated that hunting (without the “trophy” qualifier) to be barbaric. I took that, in combination with you being vegetarian, to equal eating meat (as, to me, hunting equals food hunting). You and I are in agreement with trophy hunting, though probably for different reasons (I find it to be a waste of perfectly good resources). On a side note, food hunting is actually rather economical, and the meat is generally better quality than the meat you get at, say, Walmart, or even that Chinese restaurant (you can’t get more free range meat than wild game).

    As for fighting the gun laws, technically speaking, gun laws are unconstitutional. So, on a philosophical level, I don’t agree with them. However, on a practical level, I think some gun-related laws do make sense.

    For example, most states require a hunter’s safety course be taken before getting a hunting license. This is to prove that you’ve been taught proper weapon safety and whatnot before going out into the woods, which helps reduce hunting-related accidents. Concealed carry permit holders have to go through a similar safety program, as well.

    These rules, I have no problem with. I also have no problem with some sort of check or evaluation to make sure you’re not off your rocker.

    However, some of the more recent laws, as well as some of the laws that many Gun Control advocates want to enact, go too far, with many states requiring full, detailed background checks, and unfortunately, regulations, particularly regarding controversial topics, are all-too-slippery of a slope.

    This site provides a number of reasons why gun control laws do more to damage legitimate gun owners than the good they’re supposed to do. This is especially true for people who buy a firearm and get a concealed carry to defend themselves from a real and established threat to their personal safety (such as this writer).

    The problem with most gun laws, and what makes them meaningless, isn’t just that people can break the law and buy illegal weapons, but that the laws aren’t effectual in stopping the illegal trade of guns, and are hindering capable people from obtaining guns legally. For some of those people, the laws, and following those laws, have cost them their lives.

    I would also say that auto laws are at least somewhat useless, considering my mom and I were rear-ended by a woman with a suspended license, and as far as I know, not a bloomin’ thing was done with her, but we won’t go there.

  49. Oh, and I love Bambi burgers, but prefer Bambi steak. 😛

  50. Except that owning a gun is not illegal unless you are underage, a convicted felon, the gun is stolen or it is a forbidden type of gun so you don’t actually break the law if you buy a gun on the street unless you or it fits in one of those categories. So there are essentially two LEGAL markets for guns. You can go through the hassle of obeying gun laws or you can buy from the street. The risk of buying on the street is that there is a high likelihood that the gun is stolen or has a dead body attached. Unless we are going to make sales of guns only legal through licensed sellers, require all guns to be registered and that the registration must be held with the gun at all times gun laws are stupid.

    And even if we do all those things, guns have one attribute that cars don’t – they are easily hidden. A car is readily apparent on any street. A gun can be hidden at home or in a pocket. A car can be seen by law enforcement at any time. A search warrant is needed to check a house for a gun. The police can set up road blocks to check for licenses and stolen cars. The police cannot go door-to-door in neighborhoods to check for proper gun registry. Police can pull over a car for any number of reasons and demand a license. Police cannot stop random people to search for a gun and then demand a license.

  51. Dean,

    If gun control advocates had started out by arguing for an amendment they might have gotten one before now. Instead they went for “The Second Amendment doesn’t mean what you think it means”, and worked very hard to keep test cases out of the Supreme Court, where precedent ran against them (to the best of my knowledge until the very recent rulings the last SCOTUS case involving the 2nd amendment was a 1930’s case ruling that the Feds could outlaw sawed-off shotguns, because they had no legitimate military use and were therefore not covered by the Amendment’s purpose).

    So, now there are rulings going against them, and crime is dropping. Gun advocates will point to this as proof that loosened controls protect citizens, but I suspect that it has a lot more to do with the aging baby-boom. Still, it will be hard to argue for gun control when crime is dropping. A tactical mistake, and possibly a strategic one.

  52. You know how you like to say for every story of a kidnapping or missing child, there are thousands of stories of kids that walk home fine every day.

    Well very every story of this type of stupidity, there are hundreds of kids who did similar things and didn’t get suspended. Every week some K-2 kid at my school brings something like this. The teacher takes it up explains we don’t bring stuff like this to school and gives it back at the end of the day. If the problem is chronic the teacher requires a parent to come in and get the toys that have been taken up.

    I’ve been a teacher for 10 years mostly 4th and 5th grade. Every year some kid in those grade write a paper about guns. I’ve personally seen 20 – 30 papers on how to clean a gun, my proudest moment was when I got my first buck, or my favorite vacation was hunting with my cousins.

    I called parents 2 times – and involved the administration 1 of those times.

    One time it was because the student described dangerous behavior with a gun in a story about hunting with his just over 18 yo cousin. When conferencing with the student I asked about the behavior (shooting a gun straight up in the air just to make noise). He knew this was dangerous and wrong but his cousin had called him chicken.

    I called because I was concerned the parents didn’t know about the cousin’s actions. This was a call in the evening not call at work situation. By the time I called my student had fessed up to his parents. The parents thanked me. Later they told me that they and other parents in the family had a serious conversation with the older cousin and he wouldn’t be watching the younger ones any more. Seems this wasn’t the only bad decision the guy had made.

    The 2nd kid I did call in the administration – because the Mom was a my child is perfect and you all hate him sort. The paper was about how he wanted to grow up and kill people – with graphic descriptions. He wanted to know how long he would be suspended – because he wanted to start his Spring Break early. Mom’s eyes were opened up, and he got after school detention for the week before and 3 weeks after Spring Break. Mom also took him on the scared straight tour of the jail. (small town).

  53. Read this story closely. THIS is what Zero Tolerance SHOULD be about.

    ASSAULT: Teen charged as adult in brother’s wounding
    By The Associated Press

    A 16-year-old Bellevue boy accused of shooting his 12-year-old brother in the face has been charged as an adult with second-degree assault and unlawful possession of a firearm.

    Prosecutors say Adrian Flores Maldonado told police he and his brother were “play fighting” at their home Monday night when the younger brother tried to put the older boy in a headlock. Charges filed Thursday in King County Superior Court allege that the older boy got a 9mm handgun from his room, pointed it at his brother and pulled the trigger.

    Police say in court papers the older boy said he just wanted to scare his brother and had forgotten the gun was loaded after he took it with him to Interlake High School that day.

    Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Gregg-Hanson has said the younger boy is expected to recover.

    Read more: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2011/02/04/1354996/assault-teen-charged-as-adult.html#ixzz1D31nFubT

  54. Kimberly, your story brought back memories of high school Spanish. One week the words were all about professions, and one of the listed ones was “assassin.” The teacher told us to write an essay about one profession, and I chose to be more creative, and chose assassin. It wasn’t that I wanted to actually kill anyone, it was because the other professions were pretty boring. (Accountant.) The teacher didn’t say anything, but she sure gave me a strange look when she gave me back my paper! Being female may have helped her understand that I was being creative. I hope that they don’t have those books anymore, because kids would get suspended with that assignment now.

    I think you did the right thing with the kids that you were teaching. I dealt with some like #2, and they needed the experience that you described (parents acted the same way!)

  55. My son chewed his grilled cheese sandwich into the shape of a gun when he was four. He is not a threat to society.

  56. Seroiusly though, I have had mothers from the play group complain that he makes guns out of Lego. We have plenty of Nerf guns and water guns at home, and my 2 boys love to play guns. As far as I’m concerned it is perfectly natural play. In fact I find the gun play much less dangerous that sword play and light sabre play, because nobody actually gets hit.

  57. As “outrages” go, I think this one is pretty mild. I’m a big fan of Nerf guns, but they don’t belong at school, if only because there are too many places there to misplace your expensive Nerf darts. And while I agree that the one-day suspension was excessive and unnecessary — and the principal’s tired old crap about “keeping our students safe” was the usual school administrator b.s. — it’s not as if the kid was expelled or sent to a special school for “problem students.”

    Still, it’s sad when something like this begins to seem almost routine.

  58. My daughter was in public school last year and is in private school this year. The increased tolerance is one of the benefits of private school. I remember when it was Thanksgiving feast day, they were permitted to come dressed as pilgrims and American Indians. My daughter asked if she could bring her toy bow and arrow as part of the costume. Having just come from public school, I thought – oh no! You better not! And I didn’t let her. When we showed up, all of the Indians had either bows or spears. What a relief.

  59. ] “Dean – You do know that civilians already can’t legally own fully automatic weapons, right?”

    It depends on the state. They can in Virginia, provided they are registered with the state police.

  60. For those that wish to express their feelings to the principal. Here is her contact info from the school’s web page:



  61. […] FreeRangeKids Related Posts:SANITY! England Recovers from Background Check Mania!Cancel Recess If Some Kids Are Shivering?Printable Super Bowl Bingo!A FirstHome […]

  62. […] post: Outrage of the Day: Boy Suspended for Nerf Gun « FreeRangeKids Tags: are-also, battles-on-the, brownstone, entire, entire-time-, nerf-gun, old-have, rules-are, […]

  63. its a fucking nerf gun people! calm down! just chill, its all just fun and games. its not like he could have killed someone with it

  64. […] tolerance policy on weapons. Well, then, when it is taken to the extreme, you have kids getting suspended for bringing Nerf guns to show-n-tell. We don’t want people to operate dangerous and expensive machinery while intoxicated, so we […]

  65. […] tolerance policy on weapons. Well, then, when it is taken to the extreme, you have kids getting suspended for bringing Nerf guns to show-n-tell. We don’t want people to operate dangerous and expensive machinery while intoxicated, so we […]

  66. […] Boy, 6, Suspended for Nerf Gun […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: