Guns are a hugely sensitive issue right now, but one has to wonder whether or not some school officials are going a bit overboard. One 5-year-old Massachusetts boy is facing suspension for building a Lego gun during an after school program.
MSN reports that 5-year-old Joseph Cardosa, part of the after school program at Hyannis West Elementary School on Cape Cod, was the subject of a letter to his parents a few days ago which said that he had received a written warning for using toys “inappropriately” and that, after a second warning, he might be suspended for two weeks.
Shelia Cruz and Octavio Cardosa, Joseph’s parents, think that the school is being a bit extreme on the issue.
“It’s not like he’s designing a machine gun,” said Cardosa.
“I can understand with all the things that are going on right now in schools, but on the other hand, kids are taught you know ‘here’s a squirt gun, this is fun,’ so this is fun to him, you know what I mean, he’s running around playing – a little bit of re-direction would have been enough,” said Cruz, Joseph’s mother.
Children being scolded, punished, or even suspended over a toy gun have become quite common in the weeks since the Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, reports Fox 25. A reporter for the local Fox affiliate asked Needham Child Psychologist Dr. Larry Berkowitz how parents and schools can differentiate between a genuine threat and simple “child’s play.”
He said that some of the behavior is normal, considering the “violent diet” children are fed every day.
“Some of that’s normative to our culture,” said Berkowitz. “That’s what kids see: in video games, in movies, they see it on TV, they hear about guns in the news, so, yeah, some of this is about copying and some of it is about gaining a sense of mastery of power for kids, sometime. Again, we don’t know the specifics of any one situation and that’s what we want to understand with a given child: what was going on – these could be great opportunities, teachable moments to bring up these topics with our children.”
Hyannis West Elementary’s principal said “we need a safe enviornment for our students,” adding, “While someone might think that making a Lego gun is just an action of a 5-year-old, to other 5-year-olds, that might be a scary experience.”
What do you think? Should schools be cracking down on play violence, or are they overreacting in some cases?