A North Carolina middle school has suspended a child for basically being a young boy.
A 13-year-old boy who drew a stick figure holding a gun and another holding two knives was suspended from his North Carolina middle school.
The boy’s father, James Herring, said he can’t believe his son received a two-day suspension earlier this month for what he calls a harmless picture.
“[He’s] just expressing himself, nothing violent,” Herring told WRAL. “I drew pictures like this…any other person of his age drew pictures like this. It’s nothing to get expelled from school for.”
The television news report embedded in that article shows the offending piece of notebook paper on which the boy had drawn crude pictures of a hunter with a gun, a magician, a ninja, a tank, and what appears to be some sort of medeival siege weapon.
“Due to everything happening in the nation, we’re just being extra vigilant about all issues of safety,” said Sampson County Schools’ Superintendent Eric Bracy.
Zero tolerance policies prohibiting anything that even looks like a gun may seem like vigilance but in reality theay are just publicly sanctioned irrational paranoia and they do more harm than good. Our society is literally encouraging children (and everyone else) to live in fear. Children punished for innocent doodles of guns won’t learn to respect lawful and safe possession of guns. They will be psychologically conditioned to fear guns in any context if they continue to see peers punished severely for creating even an image of a gun.
The superintendent didn’t share any details about the boy’s suspension, but told WRAL that punishments for a variety of offenses are outlined in the student handbook.
“Offenses.” That drawing pictures like this is classified as an “offense” is deeply troubling. Big Brother, nanny state, whatever you want to call it, it’s basically forcing kids to get accustomed to tyranny.
Someone is 3 times more likely to be struck by lightning than die in a school shooting. Nevertheless, schools obviously have to take precautions and demonstrate preparedness. The horrific nature of these crimes no matter how statistically unlikely they may be to affect anyone demands attention.
Still the cold numbers don’t match the media attention attached to every instance of youth gun violence that occurs outside the inner cities, or the anti-gun hysteria that always results in politics afterward. They certainly don’t warrant the superstitious reaction that leads to punishing every isntance in which children make reference to guns.
There is absolutely no reason why innocent doodles—the kind boys have always drawn—need to rise to the attention of a school superintendent and result in the same kind of punishment handed out for actual acts of violence. This is an attack on boys, free expression, and most of all on common sense.