Elementary School Discipline Goes Too Far
Little kids should not have to watch every word they say, but they do or they end up on the nightly news. They should be able to play, imagine, and pretend like my generation and generations before were able to do.
We played Cops and Robbers with cool cap guns, Evel Knievel with our bike ramps and daring no-hands on the handle bars as we zoomed downed the street, and Star Trek with our phasers or using sticks pretending that were the famous Star Wars Lightsabers. We also pretended to be mountain climbers on the monkey bars and had swing wars, clashing into each other with our wooden swings. Let's not forget "King of the Mountain," which translates into assault charges today.
These are all things of the past. By today’s rules, it is a miracle we survived or are not in some high security prison.
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Rules for Children in Today’s World
Today, children must watch what they say and imagine because if it is taken as “a threat,” they are punished. Today, you will rarely find monkey bars, wooden swings, merry-go-rounds, or even tall sliding boards on a playground. They have been deemed too dangerous. Hmmm… did you play on any of these when you were a child?
Children are going to play rough but if it is just pretend with no malice or no physical harm to others, what is the problem? Is society afraid of being taken over by the “hardcore” imaginations of our children? I guess if we stunt their ability to play, imagine, and pretend, they will not grow up to invent, problem solve, or have any memories of childhood innocence.
How Elementary Schools and Society are Taking Rules Too Far
If you have watched the news lately, you know how elementary children are being suspended on ridiculous charges of being possible threats to their school community. Here are some examples:
- Seven year old Alex Evans was suspended from school for playing his superhero game and throwing an imaginary grenade. His game is “Rescue the World,” and he was being the hero. He was suspended for an unknown time. School discipline policy clearly states for any seven-year-old to understand (DUH!) - "no weapons, real or imaginary." I get the real part, but the imaginary? Come on!
- A fifth grade girl was suspended from school after her classmate sees a piece of paper shaped like a gun falling out of her pocket. The classmate tells the teacher. The teacher searches her in front of the class and escorts her out. Classmates call her names such as “murderer.” Nothing happens to the teacher or children who publicly humiliate and bully the girl by calling her names. Seems like a witch-hunt. Really??
- Here's a "real" danger to our society: a kindergarten girl is suspended for threatening another student by saying she was going to shoot her with a Hello Kitty bubble gun. She didn’t even have the bubble gun with her. It was not even in school, but at the bus stop. Yep, those Hello Kitty bubble guns have me shaking with terror. Anyone found with one should be considered armed and dangerous. Let it be known that you will probably have horrific nightmares if you ever encounter a kindergartner slingin' a Hello Kitty bubble gun.
- A boy eats his Pop-tart making it look like a gun. He playfully points it - showing it off to other students. Typical boy? No sir! He's a threat, so get him outta there. He was suspended and grief counselors were brought in for the students. Seriously??
Let the Consequences Fit the Crime
Don’t get me wrong. I am a high school teacher and a mom. I take school shootings and school violence very seriously. My question is should we judge all children by the horrendous acts carried out by those few who were mentally disturbed and filled with hatred? I do not believe we should. Should we take out of context a child's imagination and punish them as if it were a reality? Again, I do not believe we should.
Kids need balance in their lives. It needs to start at home and be used with consistent fairness at school. The children listed above did not do anything to warrant school suspension. Imagination and words were punished. The punishment probably left these children feeling like they had done something wrong when they were just behaving like children. Has the world gone completely crazy? Does anyone see how these rigid rules are harming our children? Making an example of kids who are just being kids is going about it in the wrong way. These strict measures are going to cause good kids to be bad. Common sense is needed, not school suspension.
How ridiculous to bring in grief counselors for students who had a Pop-tart pointed at them. I doubt any of the students were afraid, unless, of course, parents and teachers are telling them to fear everything. We are going to turn our children into wimps who will not be able to face the true realities of this world, which is that it can be an ugly place. No, we are teaching them to forget great imaginations, to know their every word is being held against them, to show imagination that might have a violent or testosterone slant is to be "bad," to be paranoid and to believe they are being watched. A little too Orwellian to me.
We are setting this generation up for failure if we continue to allow unreasonable rules and consequences, which leads to a scary future for all. If you feel there is a problem with a child, talk to the child about it.
For God's sake, take that damned Hello Kitty bubble gun and put it in the trash...
Hypocrites/Hollywood Against Violence (as long as it doesn't cut into their profits)
How Responsible Is Society?
As a 70's and 80's kid watching TV and movies, I enjoyed westerns, love stories, comedies, science fiction and fantasy. Hollywood had rules that seemed to have eroded over time. The language and violence were curtailed. If there were sexual references, they were innuendos that went way above a kid's head.
Today, Looney Tunes has been taken off of TV for violence, but what about today's Prime Time that used to translate into Family Time? There are not only innuendos to sexual acts, but there are specific explanations with graphic depictions on the tube. The same goes for violent acts. A bad guy used to be shot with little or no blood. Today, the good and bad guys are shot with blood pouring and slinging everywhere. Gee, I wonder where kids these days get such ideas?
Television used to draw the line in the sand for family time and adult time (which would be considered G rated compared to today). There is no imagination because everything is laid out in front of us. I guess the Hollywood elite feel audiences are not intelligent enough for the innuendos and just "spell it out" for us.
When my kids were little, I would tape shows I didn't want them to watch. I think it is even harder to be a parent today. You have to be on constant guard against sex and violent scenes during Prime Time. Even the news can be too much for kids.
The point is that some of these things are going to seep through to our kids, whether at our house or at someone else's. Kids are going to be kids. They should not be made to feel like a criminal for playing games and showing imagination. We are creating self-fulfilling prophecy within them because they start believing they are bad. Kids listen to adults and they absorb their surroundings.
Hollywood and politicians scream about an idealistic society by speaking out and dwelling on the horrendous real violence that occurs in our world, yet they continue to rake money in on these acts of violence in their movies and television shows, greasing the politicians hands along the way.
We can't control them, but we can try to preserve our children's childhood innocence that most of us have cherished memories. Let the punishment fit the "crime" with our kids. Stick up for your kids in ridiculous situations so they know you believe they are good and decent. Ground them if they go too far. We just can't allow fear to control us or them by ridiculous rules that do more harm than good. The future is at stake. Personally, I don't want to lose freedoms to unreasonable rules that will be seeded in our children and grow larger and stronger as they become adults.
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