A New York school has suspended a 9-year-old boy in the fourth grade for putting a “kick me” sign on the back of a classmate. The suspension was handed down for “bullying.” While I have written about the need for greater efforts against bullying, I hope that this incident is not just limited to a classic school prank.
We have seen a steady stream of these draconian responses to everything from stick figure drawings to unauthorized use of markers. In this case, the boy was spotted putting the yellow post-it on a classmate’s back and was immediately stopped by the teacher. The kicking never ensued.
I can understand if the boy was previously found to have bullied the victim. However, the press accounts suggest that such a prank is enough to force a suspension. Richard Gallagher, the director of the Parenting Institute at NYU’s Child Studies Center is quoted as saying “School authorities might not have the leeway to do things differently.” I am not sure why. If this was just a kick-me sign, the appropriate measure is to simply reprimand the boy and inform the parents.
Yet, psychologist Dr. Joshua Rosenthal is quoted in the article below was raising the 1999 Columbine massacre and saying “it was a wake-up call as to what bullying can lead to . . . in extreme cases.” I think that there is still considerable distance between a Kick-me post-it and a massacre of dozens with high-powered weapons. I don’t recall Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold doing the kick-me prank on the day before and then naturally gravitating to the shooting spree with two 9 mm handguns and two 12-gauge shotguns.
If we want children to learn (and not just fear) rules of civility, we need to guarantee that they are not arbitrary and authoritarian. There needs to be some proportionality between the offense and the punishment. If this was a school bully with a history, so be it. However, that should be made clear as the cause for the suspension and not simply the occurrence of one of the oldest pranks for children.
Source: NY Post
18 thoughts on “Fourth Grader in New York Suspended Over Kick Me Sign”
It’s a start! Must be one of those Quaker schools where the teachers don’t carry tasers.
We’re making progress. At least they didn’t have him arrested.
“If I wanted any lunch, I had to catch a bobcat on the way to school, choke him to death, and give him to Mrs. Schreckenheimer, the cook, so she could make a stew and the other kids could eat, too. “~ Henman
…those silly socialists.
“If this was just a kick-me sign, the appropriate measure is to simply reprimand the boy and inform the parents. ”
so not agreed….THANK GOD this measure was taken before this incident got out of hand and seeded the minds of every other potential bully and prankster in the school. [pulling chairs out from under people was also ‘cute’ when I went to school…] If this had not been done and further bullying ensued…there would be an army of lawyers running after these teachers and the school board with a ‘we want blood’ banner and a cash register strapped right on…(there is no such thing as a non-bullying lawyer).
But that is not the primary reason for nipping the mini-terrorista in the bud… This was an opportunity to show what is NOT appropriate NOR civil to those who are at an age where the understanding of peer group behavior and peer pressure and learning what actually IS acceptable is not yet cemented in to their little psyches….showing kids that they have overstepped, and protecting those who have been stepped on…is a lesson in group dynamics that SHOULD be taught …[so they don’t grow up to be repuuglicans and demomats don’t you know …;) ]
These kids today are sissies. Why, when I was a boy, we had to walk twenty miles to school- uphill both ways. We didn’t have any fancy-schmancy Post-It notes. Nosiree,Bob. We had to steal the Old Man’s Scotch tape and tear out a sheet of notebook paper to make a Kick Me sign. Men were men in those days, and so were the women. It was all very confusing. If you were caught, you had to write “I am a degenerate sociopath” 300 times on the blackboard. We had real blackboards in those days. No fancy-schmancy Dry-Erase whiteboards. Nosiree,Bob. If I wanted any lunch, I had to catch a bobcat on the way to school, choke him to death, and give him to Mrs. Schreckenheimer, the cook, so she could make a stew and the other kids could eat, too. Yessiree,Bob- those were the good old days!
“Of course, the good Benedictine Nuns didn’t worry about bullys because even the bullys were afraid of them.”
Ah, they are no different than the Dominican Nuns who ran my school, particularly Sr. Anna, who would have made Michael Jordan look tiny and a pit bull look like a domestic cat!
“these kinds of arbitrary and capricious draconian solutions to small problems is a form of bullying itself. They seem to be intent on turning every teachable moment into something that traumatizes a child, possibly altering their lives forever.”
You said it all.
I can see how given certain facts, this might be draconian and an example of zero tolerance run amuck (for instance, it was a joke done to a friend). I can see far more likely situations where, even if it was intended as a prank, the “prankster” selected one of the unpopular people in the class as his target.
Which category this falls into is entirely dependent on knowing the two kids, which the teacher did, and we don’t.
Paul and BIL are right — the psychologist was implying that the Columbine massacre was a response to being bullied, not an extreme act of bullying.
This is an excessive over reaction to an instance of a prank by one student towards another. That being said, I guess we should be happy he wasn’t tased or arrested! It can be a delicate balance between a bully and a prankster, but this seems to be an easy decision. Stamford, you are right, I would also not have finished school if the rules were this harsh. Of course, the good Benedictine Nuns didn’t worry about bullys because even the bullys were afraid of them.
If schools were as hypersensitive when I was a kid as they are now, I think I’d still be in jail.
Immediate suspension is a wee bit extreme. As the Professor points out, a reprimand and call home to the parents should have sufficed at first. Repeat offenses should then give way to stricter disciplinary actions.
Was suspended too much? Two weeks ago in an neighboring community an 11 year old boy came home from school and hung himself in his bedroom according to his friends he was bullied for being a sissy…
What Paul Bouknecht said. My recollection of Columbine’s fact pattern are the same. Bullying responded to with psychosis and bullets.
I seriously doubt kids put “kick me” on kids they like. It is much more likely that it was just another assault by a bully on his victim; its not surprising the school noted that.
_IF_ there was no other evidence of bullying, and the target and independent classmates agreed it was not I think suspension might be a bit harsh. But that would be the exception I would bet.
I agree with your comments about this incident but I do have one question. In the fourth paragraph you seem to imply that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were the bullies. As I recall they were the targets of bullying and the shootings were done in response. Am I wrong about that?
This is Bull Shit…
What the schools and others in authority seem to be blissfully ignorant of, is the fact that these kinds of arbitrary and capricious draconian solutions to small problems is a form of bullying itself. They seem to be intent on turning every teachable moment into something that traumatizes a child, possibly altering their lives forever.
Then they wonder why some of these kids drop out of school. If I were the kid, I would not want to return to school, ever. And who could blame him.
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