A 7 year old boy in Florida last November was expelled from school for having a toy gun in his backpack. A year later he is still expelled and everyone from the news to parent organizations are torn as to whether the Zero Tolerance Rule has gone too far or if it is appropriate.
Children naturally love to show and tell. They find anything they can and “hide” it in their backpack. Sometimes they take it out, sometimes they forget it, and sometimes they just decide to leave it there and play with it when they get home. There are so many children with toy guns, and rarely do they just use their fingers to “shoot” during their imaginative games. With nerf guns, dollar store plastic guns, water guns, chocolate guns, candy guns, and countless other varieties, where do we draw the line?
If this is a family with a history of bad behavior and gun usage, then there may be some more power to the story. If this is a child with many psychological problems including behavioral and aggression, then we would have to discuss more. However, simply bringing a plastic toy gun to school and being expelled from school at the age of seven is a tough one. Would it make more sense to give the parents the consequence for even buying it for him? For not checking his backpack? For negligence? At least the kid would still be in school.
What if he was ten and had that plastic gun? I would ask the same questions. If he is a kind and sweet seven-year-old or ten-year-old from a good family, would having a toy gun be so bad? Many times adults take things out on the children instead of the parents. Many times the adults are quick to punish without really trying to understand the underlying reasons behind a child’s actions.