An Illinois preschool is teaching a 4-year-old boy quite the lesson. Officials suspended him for a full week—and also called the Department of Children and Family Services on his parents.
That lesson: it's wrong to be a typical boy.
His mother, Kristy Jackson, wrote about the incident in a Facebook post that subsequently went viral. The boy, Hunter, was learning about guns and gun safety from his grandfather, a police officer, according to Jackson. He must have picked the shell casing off the ground and smuggled it into school, unbeknownst to his parents.
When Jackson came to the school—A Place for Growth—to pick up Hunter, she was told he had brought a bullet to school. Mom was hastily escorted to the principal's office, where she soon discovered that the school's administrators know less about guns than a 4-year-old: what Hunter had in his pocket was a shell casing, not a bullet.
"He never hurt anyone, or threatened anyone," wrote Jackson. "This could literally happen to ANY CHILD who happened to find one on the ground and thought it was cool. He does not have access to ANY weapon in our home. This could have been handled by explaining appropriate behavior at school."
Hunter was expelled for 7 days and informed that if his "enthusiasm for guns continued," he would be expelled.
School officials told local news that it wasn't just the shell casing: Hunter was also being punished for pretending that his toys were guns. I consider that incredibly normal behavior for young boys, but A Place for Growth considers it so dangerous that a call to the authorities was warranted.
"As a provider of early childhood education, we are charged with introducing a curriculum that is appropriate for every child in a classroom," school President Sarah Jarman wrote in a subsequent letter to parents. "The introduction of firearms safety into the classroom is not included in our curriculum. We view and understand that it is a very personal decision that each parent has the right to make."
Little boys pretend to shoot each other all the time. It's literally what they do. It does not mean they're going to turn into deranged killers when they grow up. It means their imaginations are working properly.
A Place for Growth can crack down on this kind of behavior if it really wants to. But the Jacksons do not need a visit from child services. Let kids be kids, and let their parents parent them as they see fit.