Violence and Gun Control: More Evidence That Too Many Schools Aren’t Clear on the Concept

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece about gun control and a number of cases where children had been expelled or charged with crimes for bringing “weapons” to school. In one case, the instruments of violence were plastic toy soldiers; in another, a boy had chewed a pastry into the shape of a gun. I was hoping that we’d heard the last of these cases of good intentions gone completely crazy.

  • In a variation on gun control run amok, a 10-year-old California boy was suspended and threatened with expulsion after he brought a Swiss Army Knife on a week-long school school camping trip. Tony Bandermann told Fox News that his son Braden was on a science camping trip with his class at Garden Gate Elementary School in Cupertino. According to a school incident report, the boy showed the small knife to other students who then reported him to teachers. The incident report stated that law enforcement was also notified. However, no charges were filed. Bandermann, who was out-of-town on a business trip, said he received a telephone call from the school’s principal informing him that his son had violated the school’s weapons policy. The punishment, she told him, must be immediate and severe. “She threatened to expel him,” he said. “She kept telling me, ‘you can’t bring a weapon to school.’ A Swiss Army Knife is a tool not a weapon.” Since he was unable to pick up his son, the principal put the boy in 24-hour isolation at the camp – held in a teacher’s lounge where he was forced to eat and sleep in solitude. This story originally appeared here:
  • While not actually an issue of gun control, a Massachusetts middle school student was suspended after she brought a butter knife to school so she could cut a pear. Melissa LaPlaume told MyFoxBoston that her daughter was simply trying to cut her fruit for lunch because she has braces and can’t take bites out of the whole fruit. The vice-principal of Wamsutta Middle School said they were following the handbook rules—which ban knives—and suspended 13-year old Morgan. The story first appeared here
  • Back to gun control. A five-year-old Massachusetts boy could be suspended from elementary school after he built a gun out of Legos during an after-school program. The parents of Joseph Cardosa received a letter advising them that their son had used toys inappropriately. A second violation would result in a two-week suspension. The boy is a student at Hyannis West Elementary School. “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,” a school spokesperson told “We need a safe environment for our students.”

More gun control, anyone?

New Approaches to Bullying

[amazon asin=0062105078&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest: Carrie Goldman, author of Bullied.
Topic: What every parent, teacher, and kid needs to know about ending the cycle of fear.
Issues: Eye-opening stats on the prevalence of bullying; the harmful effects of bullying on the brain; creating a home environment that produces neither bullies nor victims; why typical school anti-bullying/zero tolerance policies do more harm than good.

Why We Need Zero Tolerance for Zero Tolerance

Dear Mr. Dad: A few days after school started, my 9-year old son started coming home crying. I asked him what was wrong and he said, “Nothing.” But when he started refusing to go to school in the mornings, I pushed the issue and he broke down and told me he’s being bullied by an older child. My son’s school has a zero-tolerance bullying policy and I expected better from them. Should I confront the bully’s parents?

A: Bullying has probably been around as long as there have been people.  Accurate statistics on how many kids are being bullied are hard to come by—the numbers range from 20 percent of kids all the way up to 90 percent. But even if you take the low end of the range, that’s still millions of kids. And there are several concepts that most people agree on:

–          More than 150,000 children stay home from school every day because they’re being bullied

–          Most victims don’t ever report it to teachers, school administrators, or parents

The good news is that your son actually told you what’s been happening, which means you can at least try to deal with it. The bad news is that traditional methods of dealing with bullies have not been successful. In fact, many of them have actually backfired, according to Carrie Goldman, author of an eye-opening new book, “Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know about the Cycle of Fear.”

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Discrimination in classroom discipline? Gee, what a surprise.

The US Department of Education confirmed what a lot of people have been saying for years: Black students—especially boys—are disciplined much more harshly than other students. The study looked at public school kids kindergarten through 12th grade. According the Department of Ed, only 18 percent of students were black, but they accounted for 35 percent of those suspended once, almost half of those suspended more than once, and almost 40 percent of all expulsions. Twice as many boys (1 in 5) were suspended as girls (1 in 10).

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