Second grader suspended from school for 'saving the world'
Second grader Alex Evans was spending last Friday’s recess on the school playground when he threw a pretend grenade at an imaginary box that he said had something evil inside it. The boy imagined saving the earth this way, by killing the “evil forces” that the imaginary box contained. When the made-up grenade detonated inside the box, Evans pretended that it exploded.
But even though the boy was just letting his imagination run wild, administrators at the Mary Blair Elementary School in Loveland, Colo., suspended him for breaking a school rule: “No weapons, real or play.”
Even the school principal seemed to understand the fictitious nature of the boy’s imagination – indicating that there is nothing more serious to the story – he proceeded to send the boy home.
“He threw the pretend grenade at an imaginary box that had something evil inside,” read the principal’s account of the story.
“I pretended the box, there’s something shaking in it, and I go pshhh,” the boy told Fox 31 Denver.
When the boy’s mother, Mandie Watkins, received the call about her son’s suspension, she disagreed with the administration’s actions and both her and her son expressed confusion about the ordeal.
“He is very confused. I’m confused as well, so it makes it hard for me to enforce these rules when I don’t even understand them,” she said.
“Honestly I don’t think the rule is very realistic for kids this age,” she added, explaining that punishing kids for trying to save the world will just cause further bewilderment.
Watkins said her son will stay home from school until the disagreement can be worked out. She is meeting with administrators on Wednesday to argue for the removal of the suspension, as well as a revision of the rule. The school district’s policy does not prohibit students from exercising their imaginations to use pretend-weapons, but individual schools are permitted to add their own rules to the student code of conduct. But psychologists argue that the rule goes against the healthy, imaginative nature that is common for a young boy.
“Since the beginning of recorded time, little boys have enjoyed games in which they project their power into the world, and that means playing with weapons,” Michael Thompson, coauthor of the book “Raising Cane: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys”, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I have no doubt that ‘cave’ boys pointed sticks at each other in threatening ways, or chucked rocks at one another, or imitated the spear-throwing actions of their fathers.”
But this isn’t the first time an Elementary School child was punished for pretending to use an imaginary weapon. A number of incidents have occurred since the Newtown massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School left 26 people dead, 20 of which were children. As schools continue to fear for the safety of their own children and mourn the lives that were lost, some administrators’ tolerance for imaginary weapons has been reduced.
In December, a 6-year-old Maryland boy was suspended for forming a gun with his hands, pointing it at a student and saying ‘pow’. In January, a 5-year-old Pennsylvania-based Kindergarten student was suspended for 10 days for telling another girl that she would use her pink toy gun to shoot her. The gun blows soapy bubbles, but administrators claim the 5-year-old presented a “terrorist threat”.
“This little girl is the least terroristic person in Pennsylvania,” said attorney Robin Ficker, who was hired by the family to fight the suspension.
But new cases continue to arise and the 7-year-old Colorado student is the latest to face suspension for letting his imagination run wild.