Ryan Summerlin March 16, 2013
Have you ever zoned out and done something idiotic? Have you ever thought that an idea was brilliant, but it turned out to be horrendous? A seven-year-old boy has that feeling, but he wasn’t even aware his actions were inappropriate.
On March 1, a Maryland child was suspended from his school for playing with his food. You would assume playing with food wouldn’t really cause a newsworthy spectacle. But this seven-year-old boy molded his pastry into the shape of … a gun. At first, he set out for it to be a mountain shape, but as he chewed around the strawberry filling, he noted that the pastry looked more like a pistol.
Across the nation, making gun hand signs, bringing toy pistols to school, and drawing any type of firearm is unacceptable and in violation of Safe School policies. However, is suspension an appropriate response to a child’s creative imagination?
Molding his pastry into a pistol, a weapon of violence and destruction. The young boy didn’t know right from wrong; he is seven, after all. He doesn’t comprehend "no-gun of any kind" policies including guns of the chewed Pop-Tart variety. If he did know those things and was a bit wiser, he probably would not have done that. It would be different if it was a toy gun and he pretended to shoot his friends with it. That would be more of an offense, and a suspension would be called for.
On the other hand, it’s good the school took action. Because of nationwide school shootings, schools have been more tense, and strict with the no-gun policies. Who knows? The young boy might assume all guns are toys. The more young children see things like this on the news and in video games, the more they may be influenced to play with toy guns. The older they get they could "upgrade" to real guns with real bullets. What if he brought an actual gun to a school? The outcome would not be a pleasant one. Plus, the school claims that the seven-year-old had behavioral issues, so punishing him with a suspension is sensible. The young boy did break a rule, so it should offer valuable lesson to him: suspension.
The school, however, did overreact even further by refusing to expunge the event from his records. Let’s say in fifteen years or so the young boy tries to apply for college or a job. They check his records and find that he was "suspended for violating a weapons policy." Would anyone want this person on campus, or in their work complex? They wouldn’t want him to terrorize their college or work place, and his application would be denied. How would his elementary school’s selfishness help him later in life?
Was the school’s decision correct? Should the child have been suspended? Isn’t there another way to handle this that brings home the lesson? To suspend a child for inadvertently carving a pastry into a gun is wrong. The school has done a disfavor with its overzealous application of a policy. Perhaps we should amend the Constitution: the right to bear arms, even pastry ones.
Kira Sincock is a sixth-grade student who plans a future that includes writing.