Monday, October 12, 2009

Never Give a Six Year Old a Pocket Knife

From the New York Times:

Zachary Christie is a six-year old student in Newark, Delaware who is facing 45 days in reform school because he brought his new Cub Scout eating utensil to school for lunch.

Read all about it

Now, I am going to be a little bit edgy here. Who gives a six year old a knife? And even if you give him a knife, who gives it to him in this day and age without serious instruction that it is not to be taken to school, or to be taken out of the house, or to be used without parental supervision?

Yes, I know knives are all around us. So are a lot of dangerous things we try to keep out of the hands of six-year-olds.

While it's easy to say putting a kid in reform school is the wrong idea here (and it is), someone needs to mention the duty of parents to use common sense and provide oversight to their kids, especially those under age 10.

As to the judicialization of school discipline, I am against it. There needs to be discretion on the part of schools. That said, the reason discretion has been removed is that it has so often been abused.

Of course, a rigid system will break just as often as a flexible one will, and that's the rub!


Viatecio said...

I do stand with you in that parents need to instill in the child a certain amount of respect and a number of rules for using a knife, but I think here, it's the Zero-Tolerance policy that went overboard. It's like how BSL goes wrong - judge the intended deed, the person, and the item in possession...not the item by itself.

Judging from the kid's record of achievements and activities, I think he'd be more like a lot of regular people: carrying a pocketknife to have and use as needed. Granted, something is always going to be new and novel for young children, but even most adults want to show off and find some immediate use for any new toy.

The site his mother set up is indeed worth a read.

HTTrainer said...

It's a no win situation. Was this another show and tell session gone bad? Did Zachary take out the knife in class, did he brandish it in any way? Who's to know?
Yes, common sense should have been used, but it is obvious it was not and that neither the parents nor the school system thought this out.
The parents may not have known Zachary took the knife to school, but when notified by the school probably became defensive and contrary to the the school staff.
The school system also showed poor judgment by proscribing reform school as the answer. They have all the resources to correct this but are so afraid of litigation the fell back on the rules. They were tied up with regulations they cannot even think clearly for fear of repercussions from the unknown.
It's a sad situation and one that often gets repeated
in many school districts.

Viatecio said...

Interestingly enough, the Nightly News segment about Zach mentions nothing Scouting-related at all.

Whether this is to cover up the fact that he was given a knife too early in his Scouting career (as per the comments on the NYT...both of my brothers were Scouts but I never really did pay attention to any of it) or to just give the facts (NBCNN indicated that it was a gift from his parents rather from the BSA), who knows. At least he's lucky to have a mother who has the resources and capability to home-school. Seems like the parents are doing a great job anyway. Kids don't come out just knowing and doing everything this one's noted to be good at.

And for a zero-tolerance topic in quite bad taste: I'd argue that in terms of deadly weapons, children themselves should be banned in this hysteria of pandemics. They're walking Petri dishes who, regardless of how many times they're told to wash their hands with alcohol-based cleasner, still have the potential to bithely pick their collective nose and then go hug everyone while coughing and sneezing. I cannot count how many people I know who have young children or grandchildren who have been chronically sick...and weren't until the all the little germies came to visit!