This is the story of a four year old little boy, who spent time over the weekend bonding with his grandfather.
The grandfather is a police officer who was doing the responsible thing of teaching the 4 year old about gun safety. The grandfather even took the youngster to the range where the officer and boy fired off a few rounds at a target.
As one can imagine this was pretty cool for the 4 year old. He was spending time with his grandpa. He was doing things other kids probably weren’t doing.
As proof of the adventure, bonding and educational time, the kid took an expended shell casing from the weekend to school to show classmates. This was not a bullet, nor something that could be fired and used to harm anyone. It was just a piece of brass and a small one at that.
Imagine the mother’s surprise when she went to pick up her son at pre-school and was met with a “stone faced teacher” who said the child had brought a “shotgun bullet” to the school.
What. The. Heck?
A “shotgun bullet?”
Housed in a .22 caliber empty shell casing?
And these people are allowed to get near kids to “teach” them?
As stupidity seldom seems to take place in isolation, the school, A Place To Grow in Troy, Illinois, decided to suspend the 4 year old for 7 days.
According to the mother, Kristy Jackson:
I was handed a piece of paper. No words, just eyebrows raised in disgust at my son, explaining that his behavior warranted a 7 school day suspension. Which I still was expected to pay tuition for, of course. And a threat that if his enthusiasm for guns continued, he’d be permanently expelled.
They suspended the kid for being a kid, for being enthusiastic, and for wanting to show what he had done with his grandpa.
The mother says she doesn’t condone the child taking the shell casing to school, and would have prevented it had she known. But she makes a larger and greater point:
See, here’s the thing. This was a teaching moment. He never hurt anyone, or threatened anyone. This could literally happen to ANY CHILD who happened to find one on the ground and thought it was cool. He does not have access to ANY weapon in our home. This could have been handled by explaining appropriate behavior at school.
He’s 4. This doesn’t hurt him, or teach him, or help him. Just his parents, who do not condone bringing these kinds of things to school. Ever. Had we known, we of course would have stopped it. But every time he or another child mentions a gun (like every boy I grew up with did) they punish him.
As we read the mother’s account, we were struck by the fact that the mother was saying “this doesn’t help my child.”
What it does is take a 4 year old kid and tell him that unless he acts within the boundaries that other people have established, he will be punished. We aren’t talking about legal boundaries, but rather arbitrary boundaries established by people with such a depth of ignorance as to say a .22 cal shell casing is the same thing as a “shotgun bullet.” Instead of listening and encouraging the kid to be excited about something and spending time with his grandfather, they are telling the kid that the activity – the legal and responsible activity he loves – is wrong.
As the preschool is a private institution, nothing will happen to the people who imposed and bullied a 4 year old and his parents because they disagree with the activity the child engaged in. They should be reprimanded or fired because being a bully is against school policy, but that doesn’t apply when the people who are doing the bullying are the teachers and administrators of the school itself.
You always hear that people question why kids are not enthusiastic about school. This case shows why.
As we were writing this, we thought of the song “Flowers Are Red,” by the great story teller and musician, Harry Chapin.
Chapin died in a car crash in 1981, but the song is just as true today as when he wrote it.