Once again in Maryland… Last week at the White Marsh Elementary School two six year old boys were playing cops and robbers during recess. They were shooting at each other with their fingers. Both boys were hauled to the principal’s office and immediately suspended from school. (If you recall, another six year old was suspended just a week before from another school, also in Maryland, for the same behavior.)
"This is easily the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard of," said Army Staff Sgt. Stephen Grafton, father of one of the first-graders. "This, a completely harmless act of horseplay at recess, was by no means an offense that warranted a suspension. It was a pair of 6-year-olds playing with imaginary pistols, one of whom has a father who is charged by the United States with using firearms in his defense."
Recent reports say that the son of Staff Sgt. Grafton has returned to school with his suspension lifted. There was no report about the other child.
What are we becoming as a nation that we are suspending six year olds from school for being six year olds? My finger guns killed numerous children and adults when I was six years old. And just as in this case, every one of them got up and walked away after dying a dramatic death. It’s child’s play; make believe. And unless there is some dark, sinister thinking going on in the child’s mind (which we may never know) it always has been and always will be. Some people are so caught up in the over reaction to the Sandy Hook incident that common sense seems to have flown out the window.
I find it ironic that many anti-gun advocates will flock to theaters in droves to watch their favorite Hollywood star shoot as many people as they can pack into a two hour movie yet they will support ridiculous actions such as this one. Then, when the get home they’ll play their violent video games and kill people themselves with their game controllers, watching the blood spray… but let little Bobby and Billy point their fingers at each other and say “Bang!” and it’s time they (Bobby and Billy) were seriously punished!!
Movie violence and video game violence is far more realistic and graphic than the actions of six year olds pretending to be cops and robbers. So why do we treat young children as bad kids for being children? Certainly the school would have the right to talk to the boys about what they were doing and let them know it is unacceptable behavior in school. And the parents could be contacted to reinforce that notion. But to suspend them both as an initial punishment is ridiculous.
Staff Sgt Grafton drove home his own point: "If anything, this was a teaching point; an opportunity to discuss with the boys and the remainder of the class the importance of not shooting at one another," he said. "Instead, the boys were removed from the playground and their parents instructed to immediately pick them up and any teaching opportunity was lost; an action which I interpret as either not having the ability to address the situation or not having the desire to. Neither of these are acceptable answers."
The principal of the school has apologized to Grafton and the boy’s mother. The mother says she feels the apology was more of an olive branch than an admission of doing something wrong. She hopes the school board will look into this and find a more reasonable way to deal with situations. We shall see what happens but I won’t hold my breath.