A 6-year-old Ohio boy was suspended from school for three days — for using an imaginary bow and arrow during recess. Although the punishment may seem severe, administrators at Cincinnati’s Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic contend the child violated the school’s zero-tolerance policy, which prohibits “any real, pretend, or imitated violence.”
On October 29, the little boy was reportedly playing Power Rangers with his friends during recess. According to school officials, the 6-year-old was observed making gestures that indicated he was using an imaginary bow and arrow.
Matthew and Martha Miele said they received a phone call from Principal Joe Crachiolo on the same day, informing them their son was being punished with a three-day suspension for using an imaginary bow and arrow.
As reported by Opposing Views, the Meiles were terribly concerned, as their son was being forced to miss three days of school for a seemingly harmless infraction.
Although they met with Crachiolo the following day and asked him to reconsider the punishment, the principal refused.
— WTHR.com (@WTHRcom) November 4, 2015
As reported by the New York Daily News, Principal Crashiolo discussed the incident, and the school’s zero-tolerance policy in a letter that was sent home to all parents.
“Recently, there have been some ‘games’ being played during recess time. These various games have involved students pretending to ‘shoot’ other students… These games are not appropriate in a Catholic school or any other school setting… I have no tolerance for any real, pretend, or imitated violence. The punishment is an out of school suspension.”
Although Crashiolo insists their son violated school policy and was punished accordingly, the feel the three-day suspension was simply too harsh. Matthew and Martha Miele said they have always encouraged their son to use his imagination. In their opinion, he was only playing a game with his friends. He never intended to inflict any harm.
— Inside Edition (@InsideEdition) November 5, 2015
As Our Lady of Lourdes is a Catholic school, the Mieles contacted the Archdiocese of Cincinnati about the situation. Although they were assured “that someone would speak to the principal,” it is unclear whether Crashiolo is facing disciplinary action.
Unfortunately, the Ohio boy’s suspension from school is not unique. As many schools have implemented zero-tolerance violence and weapons policies, children are being suspended for incidents that are seemingly harmless.
In January 2013, a fifth-grade student at an elementary school Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was forcibly searched by school administrators because she reportedly brought an origami handgun to school. According to reports, the “gun” was made by her grandfather.
Later that same month, a 5-year-old Pennsylvania girl was severely punished for bringing a Hello Kitty bubble gun to school and threatening to “shoot” a classmate with bubbles.
The kindergarten student was accused of “making a terroristic threat” against a classmate and was suspended from school for 10 days.
As reported by Mother Jones, an 8-year-old boy was suspended from school in February 2013 for “shaping his hand into a gun” and “shooting” a classmate.
In March 2013, a 7-year-old boy from Anne Arundel County, Maryland, was suspended for biting a toaster pastry into the shape of a small pistol. As reported by the Huffington Post, the boy was punished with a two-day suspension from school.
Park Elementary administrators explained the child’s punishment in a letter sent home to all parents. According to the letter, the 7-year-old boy was “removed for the classroom” after he was observed making “inappropriate gestures” with the toaster pastry.
Although zero-tolerance policies are designed to protect students from bullying and violence, the rules have become a point of heated controversy.
As reported by USA Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics has openly criticized the policies as unnecessarily “drastic.” The National Association of School Psychologists has also criticized the policies, which are largely “ineffective in the long run and are related to a number of negative consequences.”
The parents of the 6-year-old suspended for using an imaginary bow and arrow said they are unsure if he will be returning to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic. Although they do have a lot of respect for Principal Joe Crachiolo, they believe his decision to suspend their son was misguided.
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