On January 15, 2013, a high school was locked down in Long Island, NY, due to a boy carrying a Lime Green Nerf gun in his backpack. On the same day, two six year old boys were suspended from Talbot County school in Talbot County, MD, for using their fingers to represent guns as they played on the playground during recess (the second such suspension at the school in the past month). Yet, another incident occurred that day in Everett, MA, where the Everett High School Principal, and one of the teachers who assisted him, were suspended for two days for a video based on the movie “The Terminator.” The video was meant to introduce the new principal to the student body in a way the kids could identify with, but the district felt the video was too violent in light of the recent Newtown shootings.
The Newtown, Connecticut, shooting was another mass shooting in what appears to be a growing list of mass shootings. There were eight mass shootings in 2012, a rise from three mass shootings in 2011, one in 2010, and three in 2009. It’s not a huge increase, but the devastation and emotional pain left in the minds of Americans is difficult to overcome. Many, who didn’t even know the victims or their friends and families, cried upon hearing the news about Newtown. Mass shootings shouldn’t be happening, but our reaction is leaving terror in the minds of young children, many teens, and adults. Which is leading me to wonder, “Is it time for America to take a chill-pill?”
I think people in our country are beginning to over react, just a bit. Maybe I’m ignorant about guns, but how many are made in a lime green colored plastic? I don’t think it was necessary to lock down an entire school due to a student carrying a lime green Nerf toy in his backpack. Isn’t such an overreaction going to cause students to be hypersensitive to their surroundings? Have we really entered a day and age where we must be on such a vigilant alert of our environment? Such hyperawareness can cause nervousness, panic, and insecurity (to name a few) in our teens. This hyper-vigilance is going to have a profound affect our young children, to which we will not understand until they are young adults.
Are we as a society going to go so far as to penalize young children, primarily boys, for playing ‘cops and robbers’ using their hands as guns? To young children, they are role-playing the good guys challenging and beating the bad guys. To punish children for playing such games is ridiculous. My generation, and generations before me, played the same games using our hands, sticks, and mom’s kitchen wooden spatula as guns. I do not know a single person who has been psychologically harmed or has physically harmed anyone else using firearms. I have, however, seen many friends and family members become police officers or go into the military in order to be that ‘good guy’ who fights to protect the safety and freedom of others.
Perhaps a violent video wasn’t the best means to reach out to students at Everett High School, but was a suspension really necessary? I think it was an overreaction. The principal has worked for the school district for 15 years. I am confident they know him by now and they certainly wouldn’t have placed him in a position as a high school principal if they felt he didn’t have a strong character. If parents and students were offended by the video, then ask him to apologize.
We seem as a society to be traveling down a road where we react to others, rather than respond. Taking a step back, and a taking a deep breathe, can help us to evaluate a situation without us responding only on emotions. This rush the current government administration has in making laws to ban guns is a reaction without thoughtful, intelligent conversation and consideration as to how such laws will impact our country.