POW! Play Fighting In An Era Of Mass Shootings

On my morning rout through the various online news sources one story kept catching my eye on American news sites: a six year old was suspended in Maryland in late December for pointing his finger at a classmate and shouting “Pow!”.

With a backdrop of Sandy Hook, the Sikh temple shooting, the Aurora shooting, and the 58 other mass murders in the US since 1982, some reaction from school authorities to such an incident is understandable. Particularly if the child had been warned in the past about displaying such behaviour. But is suspending a child from school really the right approach?

If a child is genuinely displaying signs of threatening to shoot a fellow student (which is purportedly how the school characterised the event), is ostracising him or her from their classmates the path that school authorities should take? We cannot ignore the fact that ostractisation from school or society so frequently plays a role in these events.

Add to this the fact that this boy is six years old. Six! It would be worth contemplating whether a child would even begin to comprehend the seriousness of this backdrop of mass-murders. I think its safe to say that it is inconceivable to think that he understood the implications of this tiny act of play.

The all the more laughable development is that the parents have hired an attorney to fight against the suspension. What better way to destroy the authority that a teacher needs to control a classroom than for the parents to sue the school, what better way to damage the education that your child is going to receive.

And then you have kids like this – truly impressive.


Photo credit: Håkan Dahlström

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