Threats: Where Do We Draw the Line?

Every since the horrific shootings of Columbine, school systems have become more and more cautious with school security by implementing different methods of security such as establishing only one entrance to the school building, surveillance equipment, metal detectors, etc.  In the Education Wonks article, a eighth grade student was suspended for five days for drawing a doodle of gun for an assignment.  The student claims that illustration in question was only a doodle and nothing more, but the administration wasn’t going to take any chances.  Which brings us to the question: Where should we draw the line when it comes to a possible threat?  More and more school shootings are occuring nowadays than they have in the past and are not just limited to K-12 schools, but also occur at the collegiate level (The Virginia Tech Shootings).  As teachers, we want our environments to be safe and secure for students where they shouldn’t have to worry about their protection and can focus on the non-violent problems they face in their lives.  I can understand why the school felt compelled to administer the suspension to the boy to show how they have become more strict and quick to neutralize potential threats.  But, you also have to take into consideration the student themselves. 

Nowhere in the article did it mention the type of personality or backstory of the student, which was probably due to school privacy laws.  So, we have no real idea if the school’s actions where justified or whether they were being too cautious.  Some boys at the middle school age like to hunt and enjoy looking at the various kinds of firearms to hunt with.  Some parents believe this to be a healthy, normal hobby and others would think otherwise (I’m not here to preach how parents should raise their children).

 Do I agree with taking some discplinary action for the boy’s drawing? Yes.  A school policy needs to be enforced to make it effective and fair.  Do I agree with the magnitude of the punishment? No.  There are other routes the school could have taken instead of suspending him for five days to remedy the situation and still protect their school.  The decision will vary from district to district as to what is best way to protect their schools from threats, but sometimes I think we just need to think things through more.

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