Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

More zero tolerance ... or zero intelligence?

Two Boys Suspended For Pointing Pencils Like Guns | Parenting - Yahoo Shine

On Friday, Christopher Marshall, a second grader at Driver Elementary School in Suffolk, Virginia and his classmate were playing with their pencils, pointing them at each other and making machine gun noises when a concerned teacher pulled them into the principals' office.

"I got a call from Christopher's school at 12:30 on Friday," the boy's mother, Wendy Marshall, 34, a stay-at-home mother of five, told Yahoo! Shine. "His teacher told me that Christopher and his friend were playing with pencils, making machine gun and 'bang bang' noises. I asked if they were pointing the pencils at anyone else, if they were angry or hostile, disrupting class, or refused to stop when asked and the teacher said no. I told her that I would speak to Christopher but his teacher said she was under obligation to report them anyway."

Wendy immediately picked up her son from school and when she got there, the principal explained that due to the school's zero tolerance policy against weapons or anything that resembles a weapon, Christopher would be suspended on Monday and Tuesday, allowed to return on Wednesday. Bethanne Bradshaw, a spokesperson for Suffolk Public Schools could not be reached for comment but according to a report from Fox43 she said, "A pencil is a weapon when it is pointed at someone in a threatening way and gun noises are made" and that "Some children would consider it threatening, who are scared about shootings in schools or shootings in the community. Kids don't think about 'Cowboys and Indians' anymore, they think about drive-by shootings and murders and everything they see on television news every day." According to the Suffolk News-Herald, the school had received hundreds of emails and on one day fielded about 75 phone calls per hour regarding the matter. Bradshaw wrote in an email to the paper that the reaction to the incident was overwhelming. “Opinions were very strong and mean-spirited, and often included abusive language and profanity.”

"I told the principal that Christopher's father is an ex-Marine and he was just emulating his dad," said Wendy. "Apparently the students were told at the beginning of the year that they couldn't pretend that objects were guns—there are only four weeks left in school. How could they remember that? Kids need to be reminded to bathe and brush their teeth. Besides, they were just being boys. The disciplinary report will be on Christopher's record forever." The report, below, was provided by the Marshall family.

Wendy took her son home and asked him to explain what happened. "He was shaking with fear and didn't understand why he was in trouble," she said. "So we reenacted the scene and I told him that he did nothing wrong." Christopher's father alerted the local news station and Wendy and Christopher spent the next two days eating ice cream, playing Mario Go Kart on Wii, and cleaning the house. "I let him drink soda too," she says. "I'm not going to punish him."

Click for larger viewClick for larger view
Wendy did not want to identify Christopher's friend but she says she believes he got a similar punishment. "I would understand the school's point better if the kids were older and they were being hostile toward each other," she says. "But these kids were laughing and playing and Christopher is being made into an example, which isn't right."

I'm not sure what the mother meant by "only four weeks left of school" but what I do know is that kids think about potential violence and shootings and not cowboys and Indians because the adults in this world won't give it a rest.


Asked by Ballad at 11:46 PM on Oct. 6, 2013 in Politics & Current Events

Level 45 (193,996 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (6)
  • Zero tolerance binds the teachers and administration from making intelligent decisions. Clearly there was not a threat here. Kids, esp. boys, have been playing with pretend guns for generations. It doesn't turn them into mass murderers.

    I have very little respect for educators who will not think for themselves. What could they possibly be teaching the children?

    Answer by May-20 at 8:42 AM on Oct. 7, 2013

  • Cause it is from May of last year.

    Answer by kmath at 12:01 AM on Oct. 7, 2013

  • "making shoting sounds"
    the kid is being educated by idiots.


    Answer by feralxat at 1:14 AM on Oct. 7, 2013

  • I know it seems crazy. But parent and the schools need to make sure the kids are reminded of this rule. I heard you can't even point a finger gun at anyone.

    Answer by louise2 at 9:01 AM on Oct. 7, 2013

  • Strange, I wonder why my SO mailed it to me this afternoon then.

    Comment by Ballad (original poster) at 12:35 AM on Oct. 7, 2013

  • The work that kids miss when suspended can't be made up at my kids' school. My oldest is struggling in Math and if he were forced to miss assignments late in the year, he might fail the class. If he were suspended for something as stupid as this, I'd feel compelled to pull him out of public school.

    Mimicking gun sounds is no more an indication that a child is violent than a child watching cartoons like Spider-Man. So, they've punished these kids for being kids. They need to redefine and clarify their policies so that common sense can prevail. Parents need to address this because it's gotten out of hand.

    Answer by HHx5 at 1:53 PM on Oct. 8, 2013