Virginia second-graders suspended for pointing pencils at each other

Have you heard about the two 7-year-old boys who were suspended from their Suffolk County, Va. school for pointing pencils at each other while making shooting sounds? One boy was pretending to be a Marine and the other a bad guy.

There is a zero tolerance policy in the school system and so, the second-graders had to stay home for two days instead of go to class at Driver Elementary School, according to the Associated Press.

Paul Marshall, one of the boys’ fathers, who is a former Marine, was quoted as saying:

When I asked him about it, he said, ‘Well I was being a Marine and the other guy was being a bad guy.’ It’s as simple as that.


But not to Suffolk Public Schools officials. The AP quoted spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw as saying that under the disciplinary code in the district, a pencil pointed at someone by someone making a shooting sound is considered a weapon. She was quoted as saying:

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.


A reader offered this solution in the comments of the story:

Here is the appropriate way the teacher should have dealt with this:

Teacher: “Little Chris, that is not appropriate behavior. Please stop it and sit down”.
Little Chris “OK Mrs Teacher. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do anything bad”

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.



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Valerie Strauss · May 8, 2013

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