A kindergartener in Pennsylvania was pulled from her school bus line and suspended after an adult overheard her talk about "shooting" a classmate. The girl was referring, as it turned out, to a Hello Kitty "gun" that blows bubbles.
The little girl who attends kindergarten in the Mount Carmel Area School District in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, was waiting in line with friends on January 10 when according to her attorney, Robin Ficker, she said something to the effect of "I'm gonna shoot you, you can shoot me and we can all play together."
Those comments, Ficker said, were overheard by an adult prompting a search of the student's backpack – during which they did not find a gun.
"She was referring to a Hello Kitty bubble gun," said Ficker.
Ficker said the next day the child was questioned by school administrators without a parent present and then issued a letter of suspension for, "making a terroristic threat." He said the letter stated the child was not to be readmitted to school without a psych evaluation – which returned with no abnormalities.
The child's mother attempted to transfer her to a different school, but was reportedly unable to enroll her anywhere because of the "terroristic threats" on her record. (The school eventually downgraded "making a terroristic threat" to "threatening to harm another student," but that seems like a pretty superficial difference.) Now, I know that of course we're all on edge about school violence and guns and warning signs and little monsters—and I can't imagine the pressure of being an elementary school administrator right now—but is it really effective to traumatize certain children in the name of protecting others? And how are kids supposed to know not to talk about "shooting" things when we literally give them fake guns to play with? Like, you can have this toy, but never, ever speak of it at school, and also keep in mind that it is a terrifying murder-machine, except when it has Hello Kitty on it and blows bubbles. Happy 5th birthday!
It's not like I have some magic panacea to eliminate gun violence, but inundating 5-year-olds with mixed messages and then punishing them for it seems like a pretty shitty system.