Tag: School Safety

The Bubble Bandit

Headdesk:

A 5-year-old girl was suspended from school earlier this week after she made what the school called a “terrorist threat.”

Her weapon of choice? A small, Hello Kitty automatic bubble blower.
The kindergartner, who attends Mount Carmel Area Elementary School in Pennsylvania, caught administrators’ attention after suggesting she and a classmate should shoot each other with bubbles.

The kindergartner was ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation during her 10-day suspension, which was later reduced to two days. The evaluation deemed the girl normal and not a threat to others, Ficker said.

The Mount Carmel Area School District told ABC News, “We are confident that much of the information supplied to the media may not be consistent with the facts… The Mount Carmel Area School District takes the well-being and safety of students and staff very seriously.”

This is just one of a series of massive over-reactions we’ve seen in the wake of Sandy Hook.

Across the country, schools are locking doors that weren’t locked before, even though, at Sandy Hook, the door WAS locked. They are hiring guards, even though, at Sandy Hook, the gunman blasted anyone who got in his way. They are implementing voodoo-esque defenses, like making parents call 24 hours in advance of a visit to the school, or forcing parents to forfeit their car keys upon entering the school, or even just making everyone start signing in — as if a madman bent on mass murder would reconsider if he had to sign a piece of paper. “Oh, do I have a photo I.D. with me?…I guess, uh…never mind.”

Of course, the tragedy in Newtown shocks and dismays us. But it shouldn’t make us fundamentally change our schools, because nothing else has fundamentally changed — except our fear level. One mom wrote to me yesterday that her children’s school had scrapped its “Go inside a classroom if you hear gunfire” policy and was now telling students to run outside, or crawl into the drop-down ceiling (how???), or, if they are in the parking lot, to drive away (but not to any particular place) — in effect, endorsing panic. And a few posts below this one, a mom was protesting the $2.4 MILLION her school district is considering spending on school guards.

And, of course, they are stepped up zero-tolerance policies. Because you know if you let a kindergartner bring a bubble gun today, tomorrow it might be a bazooka.

What we have here is a group of panic-stricken people running wild embracing any policy that sounds like it might help. This, of course, delights the people who have long had a list of things they want to implement — gun control, locked down schools, video game censorship. It is time for people to stand up and say, “No, enough! Prove to me that X will save lives before we even consider it.”

Blown Out of Proportion

I’m hoping … hoping … that his is an example of a dim bulb prosecutor bringing big stupid charges to get some publicity before he pleads down to something more sensible. I’m hoping that because the alternative is that Phil Caviness is a power-crazed moron who has been given way too much authority:

[18 year old high school senior Tyell] Morton was arrested Tuesday after school surveillance cameras captured a picture of a man dressed in a hooded sweatshirt and wearing latex gloves, concealing a package and leaving without it. Believing it contained explosives, the school was evacuated and the Indiana State Police bomb squad was called in. It turns out that the package contained a blow-up doll placed in the girls’ restroom. Police say that Morton admitted putting it there as a prank.

He’s now charged with felony criminal mischief for a hoax that the teen’s family says doesn’t rise to the level of criminal charges.

He’s facing eight years in prison — five more than he’d be facing if he’d brought a gun to school. The school’s defense is that their massive over-reaction to a package cost them $8000. The prosecutor’s?

“In this post-Columbine world, that’s what you get when these kinds of things happen,” said Rush County Prosecutor Phil Caviness.

So placing a blow-up doll in a bathroom warrants a reaction similar to how we might react to the cold-blooded murders of 15 children. Nicely done, Phil Caviness. Nice sense of proportion.

I suppose Mr. Morton — who was incidentally set to graduate and has never been in trouble with the law — should feel lucky. In the world envisioned by school administrators and prosecutors swollen with their own sense of power, he’s lucky they didn’t shoot him right there in the hallway.