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!