On Friday, September 1, 2023, two 6-year-old boys were suspended from school for playing “cops and robbers.”
Their crime? Pointing their fingers at each other and saying, “BANG!”
“They labeled my six-year-old as a potentially violent and dangerous student because he was being a little boy and playing cops and robbers with another student (who was also suspended) and using his fingers like a gun,” said Jarrod Belcher, father of one of the boys.[i]
This raises a question that CSSA and others have asked for a very long time.
Why is being a child a crime?
Millions of boys (and girls) have played “cops and robbers” throughout the decades and none of them grew up to be mass murderers.
Society’s adult fear, sparked by the heinous acts of some deranged individuals, likely started this war on boys, but drowning our children in our fear will not take our fear away.
Applying common sense will, but that is in very short supply, especially in this post-COVID age.
Chicken Fingers Are Weapons?
In early 2001, an 8-year-old boy was suspended from school for three days for violating Jonesboro School District’s zero-tolerance policy against weapons.
“It’s just a piece of chicken. How could you play like it’s a gun?” asked Kelli Kissinger, the boy’s mother.[ii]
Dangerous Repeat Offender?
In May, 2001, 8-year-old Billy Barnes was suspended from Ragged Island Consolidated School, near Lockeport, N.S., for a day for pointing a breaded chicken finger at another child and saying, “Bang.” This was young Billy’s second “offense.” Earlier in the year he also pointed his finger at someone and said that same terrible word.[iii]
4-Year-Old’s Drawing Leads to Strip Search, Arrest and Seizure of Children
In February 2012, 4-year-old Neaveh Sansone drew a picture of her daddy holding a gun and shooting monsters on a classroom whiteboard.[iv]
Jesse Sansone, a hard-working father of four, was called to the school where he was arrested, strip-searched and his children were apprehended by Waterloo Region Family and Child Services.
Jesse Sansone did not even own a gun. Neither police nor school officials cared.
His daughter’s drawing (erased before anyone else could see the “offensive” image) was all the proof they needed to turn his life upside down.
Defending the school’s actions, Waterloo Regional School District Superintendent Gregg Bereznick claimed, “we do work hand in hand with these families because we co-parent…”[v]
School Bureaucrats and Teachers are now Co-Parents?
“By co-parent I’m talking about teachers and parents working together to support children as they grow up. And so those relationships are important to us, and we value them,” Bereznick claimed.
In limited situations, government intervention in a child’s life is warranted. These include neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and failure to provide the basic necessities of life.
Absent these circumstances, the State has grossly exceeded its authority. When that happens, it is our duty, our moral obligation, to stand against government interference in our lives.
But government bureaucrats don’t take kindly to citizens standing up for themselves.
As the case of Jesse Sansone proved, they will do almost anything to rationalize their actions, even when they’re wrong.
“…we do work hand in hand with these families because we co-parent…”
Especially when they’re wrong.
Columnist Barbara Kay spoke to the gross failures of all levels of government in the Jesse Sansone case.[vi]
I had a similar situation once that I handled very differently.
I was the editor of an anthology of creative writing for high school students.
One girl sent in a beautifully written, but disturbing story about a girl who murdered her mother in revenge for some perceived grievance. The killing was graphically described in detail.
My committee and I wondered if we should do something about it. In the end, we called the mother and told her about her daughter’s story. The mother was surprised but assured us there was nothing wrong in the household.
At that point I suppose I could have called child services, but I felt the mother was forthcoming and without guile, and my instinct was to drop it.
I decided that if every kid that wrote a piece of bloody fiction in future was aware that his or her writing would result in an invasion of the state into the household, with who knows what results, it was better to assume that the kid was just a brilliant writer. Which she was.
She actually won first prize and read it aloud at the launch, to her mother’s embarrassment but also – since she had a sense of humour – her delight in the irony of the situation.
The girl went on to win a Rhodes scholarship and is now a doctor with a beautiful family.
I have to wonder how upsetting and guilt-making it would have been for that girl if the CAS had become involved in her act of creativity.
Oh, how we long for Barbara Kay’s basic common sense to return to our land.