Hoke County Schools in North Carolina are safe once again now that administrators have disciplined a public menace: 5-year-old Caitlin Miller, who was holding a stick and pretending it was a gun.
The rogue even confessed her dastardly crime to local reporters.
"I was playing with my two friends Chloe and Adelyn," admitted Miller. "Chloe was the queen, and Adelyn was the princess, and I was the guard."
A guard needs a weapon, and Chloe chose a stick that happened to resemble a gun. The school was not pleased. Officials claimed she had "threatened to kill her classmates," according to ABC News, and suspended her for one day:
"The Hoke County School system said Caitlin posed a threat to other students when she made a shooting motion -- a violation of school policy, officials said. …
The Hoke County School school system defended its policy in a statement and said it would "not tolerate assaults, threats or harassment from any student."
At least this is a win for gender equality. Little boys are ritualistically punished for typical boy behavior on the playground: now the same is happening to little girls.
But schools should not punish kids for having imaginations, period. While it's appropriate to discipline truly disruptive behavior, there's nothing wrong with kids engaging in some very light make-believe violence. A little girl should be allowed to pretend she's a princess or a stick-wielding guard.
If the stick-gun was actually a problem, why not simply tell Caitlin to put it down, or stop pointing it at her classmates? If she persisted in causing a disturbance, then her teachers could punish her. Instead, they overreacted, because too many members of the public school bureaucracy are condition to treat routine examples of kid behavior as dangerous or even criminal.