Nearly every week, we are met with stories of school children being punished by administrators for seemingly harmless “crimes.” Unfortunately, it seems that the old saying, “boys will be boys” no longer applies in this country.

In Pennsylvania, ten year old Johnny Jones was suspended for using a pencil to “make believe to shoot an imaginary bow and arrow” at one of his friends during class. Johnny’s make believe assault was in response to another boy who had used a notebook as an imaginary gun and pretended to shoot Johnny.

It is depressing just how far we have fallen, to the point where a make believe exchange between two friends can lead to school suspensions and weapons charges/violations. That’s right, little Johnny’s permanent record will say that he brought a weapon to school… even though he didn’t.

South Eastern Middle School’s zero-tolerance weapons policy, endorsed by the Department of Education, prohibits the possession of any replica or look-alike weapons. Obviously, we want to live in a world where it is illegal to bring a weapon, whether it is real or fake, into a school. But there were no actual weapons, only what the two boys’ imaginations created.

What is even sadder is the fact that it was a young female student that saw the imaginary “assault” and immediately reported it to the teacher. This, in my opinion, is worse than the suspension itself. It’s one thing for the school administrators to be over the top and ridiculous in their implementation of school rules. When we hear about a principal who overreacts to these sorts of imaginary exchanges, we may be disappointed… but we usually aren’t all that surprised. In this situation, not only did the school administrators overreact, but they have conditioned other students to tattle on their classmates for imaginary fighting. It is depressing that we have reached the point where an imaginary exchange prompts a response from anyone.

Tell Congress to stop the Department of Education’s zero-tolerance policies from overreaching and punishing children for harmless behavior!

In another case this week of school administrators overreacting, a six year old Colorado boy was suspended from his school for “sexual harassment” after he kissed his “girlfriend” on the hand. This is the kind of stuff that really gets your blood boiling. I’m sure you remember what elementary school was like. Nearly everyone had a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” Nothing ever really happened, the kids would just hold hands and, at most, kiss each other on the cheek.

I am embarrassed to live in a world where a six year-old’s harmless kiss on the hand is seen as sexual harassment. I thought that was chivalrous, right? He probably saw it in an old movie and thought that it was romantic. Now, he has a permanent record with him being suspended for sexual harassment.

Living in today’s day and age requires everyone to walk on egg shells. And it might seem like we gotten here overnight… but we didn’t. There is no one to blame but us. From the top-down, we put the people in office who have decided that a kiss on the hand is sexual harassment and a using school supplies or your finger to mime a gun warrants weapons charges.

Tell Congress to stop the Department of Education’s zero-tolerance policies from overreaching and punishing children for harmless behavior!

While many of these instances are local issues, they are happening all over the country. That’s not a coincidence.

For years, Congress and the Department of Education have supported these zero-tolerance policies to combat drugs, school violence, and sexual assaults. Without a doubt, when confronted with legitimate threats, these policies have been able to stop incidents before they escalated. However as the name implies, there is no room for interpretation, no room for leniency. We have allowed the Department of Education to push for a one-size fits all approach to school discipline.

We are paying school administrators enormous sums of money not to exercise good judgment, but to hand down cookie-cutter punishments that don’t differentiate between someone who brings a loaded gun to school and a child who takes a bite out of a pastry and pretends it’s a gun.

There is no equivalency to this. A finger-gun is not the same as a loaded pistol, and a kiss on the hand is not the same as sexual assault. Yet not only do the adult school administrators fail to see this, but they have conditioned the students be afraid of these harmless acts as well.

If we allow these zero-tolerance policies to continue to punish school children for harmless, childhood games, this next generation making its way through the school system will be unrecognizable to those that came before. No matter what Democrats might say, it is wrong to charge children with felonies for playing cops and robbers during recess and kissing their crush on the hand.

Join me in telling Congress to STOP the Department of Education’s zero-tolerance policies from overreaching and punishing our children for harmless behavior!

Sincerely,

Joe Otto
Conservative Daily

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