Mass Hysteria Obliterates Another Childs Innocence
At this point, I am waiting for the call that my son, my sweet five year old, is suspended from school. He goes to a school which espouses the ‘Zero Tolerance Policy’. A school that has ‘play fighting never allowed’ clearly typed out in their handy dandy little notebook. Like many typical five year old Kindergarten aged children, my boy would like to be a superhero one day when he grows up. I am amongst one of the many parents after school who is constantly pulling our boys apart and reprimanding them as they try to play how they like- with play fighting, shooting, and wrestling. I watch as my son shoots out his webs from his wrists as he emulates Spider-man, while his best friend strikes a pose and does his best impression of Iron-man, and I worry.
I worry that just like so many cases this year, my son will be in trouble for playing. I worry that like the 6 year old boy in Silver Spring who pointed his finger and said ‘Pow!’ that my son will face suspension. I worry that like the Philadelphia fifth grade girl, my son may face invasive searches, public shaming, name calling. I worry that like the 5 year old Massachusetts boy (who made a gun out of Legos) that my son may receive threats of punishment. I have a fear that my son may face the horrendous treatment the 6 year old who wanted to shoot her friend with bubbles did. These punishments include:
- Psychological Evaluations
- being labelled as a making ‘terrorist threats’
My god, does this not seem simply insane to other people out there? I understand that ‘these are the rules’ but haven’t we always supported rising up against unfair and ridiculous rules and laws in society? Or do we use that as a cover for our fear given the recent events involving gun violence we (and our schools) have faced? I cannot help but feel extremely worried, disturbed by the idea that we must corrupt, twist, and strip the innocence of normal childhood play because we as a people are afraid.
The principle of the school where the latest incident occurred gave this remark to Fox News-
“We need a safe environment for our students. While someone might think that making a Lego gun is just an action of a 5-year-old, to other 5-year-olds, that might be a scary experience.”
There is a difference between play, and intimidation. Obviously, should a child feel intimidated, or scared- those concerns should not be pushed aside because some child claims that they were ‘only playing’. Even if a child was playing in innocence, should another child feel uncomfortable- that should be addressed! I don’t feel that it is productive for the students, for the school, or for the general public that those (latter) incidents be handled in a hysterical, accusing, intolerant manner. These are not bad children. These are not children who are trying to harm others. These are loving, innocent children, who are being caught up in a social dilemma. It is not fair nor right to take out that fear on them.
I worry about what we are teaching our children when we overreact to these situations. What values are we impressing on them? I wonder how we are to teach children to modify their behaviour so that it is ‘appropriate’ if we do not react to the situation appropriately. Telling a five year old that she may go to jail, is simply not appropriate. The ramifications of instilling our fear and paranoia into the children of our nation is one that I am concerned about. Regardless of the national gun debate, surely… we must think of a different way to teach children what play is or is not appropriate and where. Surely, we can be adults and guide and mentor our children onto the right path to respect others, even in play. Surely, we can do that without traumatizing them for something that they do not yet understand.
Do you think that the current reactions to young elementary students is wrong, or do you feel that the schools are right in responding as they have?