Friday, April 11, 2014

Pencils, Knives, and Warriors

You may have already seen this story about a seventh-grader who was suspended from school for twirling a pencil.
Glen Meadow Middle School seventh grader, Ethan Chaplin, was recently suspended after, he says, he was simply twirling a pencil in math class. News 12 New Jersey reported that the Vernon Township, New Jersey teenager was twirling a pencil with a pen cap on top when another student yelled, “He’s making gun motions, send him to juvie.”
Sounds like the typical seventh-grade male sense of juvenile humor. But in today's hyper-sensitive world, any hint of anything remotely related to a gun is cause for massive over-reaction.

After the story hit the media, the school district superintendent backtracked - sort of.
The interim superintendent of the Vernon Township School District says reports a middle school student was suspended last week for twirling a pencil are untrue...

"The story that we expelled or suspended a student is partially not true ... We did exclude" the student from attending until a proper psychological evaluation was done, interim Vernon Superintendent Charles Maranzano told the newspaper.
Ah, it wasn't a suspension. The boy was simply 'excluded' from school until he was examined by a shrink. He also had to pass a physical exam and drug test.
If a student "demonstrates odd behaviors, non-conforming behaviors, it causes us to take a closer look," he told the newspaper. "If a student gestures or demonstrates behavior that could be construed as a threat to others in a classroom ... then that's also a trigger for us."
Setting aside for the moment the idea that "non-conforming behaviors" can get a kid suspended (under that rubric I never would have graduated from elementary school, much less more advanced grades), I still fail to see how twirling a pencil can possibly be considered as a threat to others. Keep in mind that the only witness to the alleged threatening behavior is another seventh grade boy - not exactly the most reliable category of witnesses.

Hey, I've got a daughter in high school, and a couple of grandkids in middle school.  I understand the need for vigilance. I get the concern of parents and school officials. But I'd sure like to see a little common sense enter into the equation. After all, the kid that just went on a slashing rampage in a Pennsylvania high school didn't exhibit any odd, non-conforming, or threatening behavior.
Some classmates at Franklin Regional Senior High School describe (the attacker) as having few friends and being quiet, but also as a "really nice kid."
"This is not a dysfunctional family," Hribal's lawyer, Patrick Thomassey, told CNN on Thursday. "They're like the Brady Bunch. These parents are active with their two sons, and we're trying to figure out what happened."
Speaking of that incident, the American Thinker had an interesting article about it. If you're a parent, you may want to share it with your kids.
A multiple stabbing attack by a lone perpetrator in a Pennsylvania school, in which more than 20 were wounded, has everyone crying for more metal detectors in schools, and for more guns in the hands of teachers, other school personnel and even students.

Now, I’m a big proponent of an armed citizenry. I think an armed citizenry is one of the greatest, most effective deterrents to crime.

But when I heard about this incident, my first thought was, “Whatsamatta, weren’t there any chairs in that school?”

I believe this particular attack could have been curtailed without a single gun. In a school setting, the key to defense against a knife-wielder is in your head and under your butt.

The “under your butt” part is the chair ... Four or five students wielding chairs can fairly easily neutralize and detain a single knife attacker. And a classroom is chock-full of any number of other objects that can be used as defensive (or even offensive) weapons.

But this is where the “in your head” part comes in.

Imagine, if you will, such a knife attack taking place in a room full of Spartan children, or Viking children, or Zulu children? How about Gurkha children, or Apache children? Or, if you still don’t get where I’m going with this, how about a room full of Klingon children?

Because those are all great warrior cultures. And I guarantee you that in none of them would children be trained and encouraged -- make that indoctrinated -- to be passive and non-combative the way that “modern” American children are...

Rather than pick up their chairs to use against the attacker the way a circus lion-tamer uses a chair to keep a 400 lb. mass of teeth, claws and muscle at bay, these kids probably froze, or cowered, or reached for their cellphones to dial 9-1-1 (as they’d undoubtedly been trained to do no matter what the crisis) and then waited for the authorities to ride to their rescue.

Thank God not all Americans are now steeped in passivity. Todd “Let’s Roll” Beamer and his fellow passengers on Flight 93 realized that there is a time to fight, even if you’re up against a deadly weapon and you have little more than seat cushions and rolled-up magazines. What would have happened had they all just cowered in their seats?

Just as our kids are taught to scan a room for the fire exits, they should be taught to scan for objects that can be utilized for self-defense. For example, the flagpole at the front of the classroom could be very handy in keeping an attacker at a distance. Or do they not have flagpoles in classrooms anymore, because the flag might be “offensive” to illegal aliens?

A lot of attitudes are going to have to change.

Back when I was still in the classroom we had to undergo 'active shooter' training. The gist of it can be boiled down to three simple actions, to be performed in this order.
1. Bug out.

If at all possible, get away from the situation. Use any available exit, including windows

2. Hide Out.

In a classroom, this basically consists of turning off the lights, locking the doors, and making sure everyone is out of sight

3. Fight back.

This is the last resort, because you are basically going after an armed attacker with your bare hands. We were taught to use whatever is at hand as a weapon or distraction. One technique is to have the less physically imposing students throw erasers, books, staplers, or whatever else is available at the shooter while the rest of the class rushes him en masse.
I'm not sure how effective the above might be, but it's better than cowering in place hoping the shooter runs out of ammunition before he gets to you.

Of course, the liberal response to knife attacks is to pass knife control legislation.

Think I'm kidding? They already have an early form of that in the UK.

The Conran “R tip” anti-stab utility knife, £7.95 from Newport Knives, UK

This is not the world I grew up in...


Bag Blog said...

First of all, anyone who teaches in a jr. high should probably have a psych evaluation. Second, a seventh grade boy probably did do something wrong, but who knows what exactly. Third, schools I have taught in always checked to see if students had a knife or gun. If not, they issued you one. Just kiddin' on that last one.

Old NFO said...

Yeesh... I'd never have graduated MIDDLE school... This whole PC zero tolerance crap it going to screw up EVERY kid...

CenTexTim said...

BB - You're right about middle school. I think it was Mark Twain who said something like "When a boy turns 13 he should be put in a barrel and fed through the bunghole. When he turns 16 the bung should be driven in."

NFO - They've gone mad...