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Zero Tolerance: Have We Gone Too Far?

A 5-year-old kindergartener was suspended for 10 days for what school officials labeled a “terrorist threat.” Her crime: saying she wanted to shoot a classmate and herself with a Hello Kitty bubble gun. Have we gone too far, Tampa Bay?

Making sure public schools across the Tampa Bay area are safe, welcoming places where learning is priority No. 1 is a concern on most parents’ minds – especially in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December.

Bay Area residents have spoken out on the need for enhanced security in schools. And, they’ve weighed in on gun control issues.

But, as we rush to shore up our schools’ defenses to prevent a repeat of Sandy Hook from happening here in our backyard, is anyone asking how far is too far?

The story of a 5-year-old girl’s suspension from a Pennsylvania elementary school after she said she wanted to shoot a classmate and herself with a Hello Kitty pink bubble gun puts a spotlight on just how serious some adults are taking threats in schools.

Zero Tolerance policies against violence, weapons on campus, threats, bullying and so on are commonplace in Bay Area schools and they’re not necessarily new. Most counties have highly detailed Zero Tolerance rules and regulations spelled out in their Student Code of Conduct documents that are required reading at the beginning of each school year.

Most policies seem well-thought out and well-meaning, but as their name suggests, they don’t offer a lot of wiggle room. The Pennsylvania case illustrates just why some wiggle room might be needed.

What we want to know from you Tampa Bay is this: In our rush to make schools safer, more inviting environments for learning, have we lost sight of commonsense? By enforcing Zero Tolerance policies related to bullying, weapons, threats and violence are we forgetting that sometimes kids are just being kids and maybe, just maybe sometimes they just want to blow innocent bubbles? Or has society come to a point where it truly is time for Zero Tolerance policies to stand as just that? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

melinda croft January 30, 2013 at 01:34 PM
Really a 5yr old suspended for 10 days is just insane. The child was being a kid. are we trying to make kids grow up faster? Teenagers are the ones who are to blame for this and that is sad also. But like its been said before It's a kid wanting to play with a Kid gun, not a REAL GUN!!! BIG DIFFERENCE! Teachers and Principals and Superentendants Use your head here you punished an innocent child for kids play.
melinda croft January 30, 2013 at 01:38 PM
This is also said to say but mayby its best to have Kids Home Schooled but then again you dont know if the person teaching them has enough knowledge to get the job done right so until there is no more public schools, Put a metal detector at the door so guns dont get into the schools seems a bit expensive but then again you cant put a price on a persons life and then you will know no one will be getting killed by guns in schools
DANA MOSSMAN February 01, 2013 at 03:31 AM
THE UNDER EDUCATING OF AMERICAN YOUTH AND THEIR LOW SELF ESTEEM HAS PRODUCED MORE KIDS KILLED IN URBAN CITIES THAN OUR TWO WARS. PUT IN DISCIPLINE, DUMP BAD TEACHERS, PAY GOOD TEACHERS MORE, BRING IN RETIRED BUSINESSMEN AND MILITARY (FATHER FIGURES), DON'T LET KIDS DROP OUT AT 16 MAKE IT 21 OR 18 IF THEY GRADUATE. YOU WILL HAVE A SAFER SOCIETY WITH LESS KIDS GOING TO PRISON AND CEMETERIES.
Phil Cooper February 07, 2013 at 05:26 PM
"Zero tolerance" is a substitute for "critical thinking". School administrators who establish and rigidly enforce such policies need to be fired, pure and simple. If they're incapable of critical thought, they're not qualified to teach children, regardless of how many degrees and certificates they may hold.
Phil Cooper February 07, 2013 at 05:28 PM
Stop SHOUTING!

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