Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Kindergarten Terrorist

Granted violence is never far from us, especially in the US of A where shooting incidents are fairly common (e.g. Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012; Oregon mall shooting in Clackamas, Oregon on December 11, 2012; Aurora cinema shooting in Colorado on July 20, 2012). And it is right that we stay alert. But we can also easily overreact. Here is one such story.

A five-year-old kindergarten girl was talking with a friend while waiting in line for a school bus. That conversation occurred on January 10, 2013 and it suggested she and a classmate should shoot each other with bubbles. When school authorities heard about it, the kindergartner, who attends Mount Carmel Area Elementary School in Pennsylvania, USA was tagged a terrorist threat and suspended for 10 days. Adding insult to injury, the school even required her to be evaluated by a psychologist.

“I think people know how harmless a bubble is. It doesn’t hurt,” said Robin Ficker, an attorney for the girl’s family. According to Ficker, the girl, whose identity has not been released, didn’t even have the bubble gun toy with her at school. It was supposedly a Hello Kitty bubble-gun.

Ficker, who said he was contacted because the mother had read he handled a similar case in Maryland, suggested she ask the principal to expunge the record. That did not happen, but her suspension was reduced to two school days, and the reason for it changed to being described as a threat to harm another student.

“She’s branded,” Ficker said.

The distraught parents said they couldn't get their daughter into another school, because no one wanted a kid with a "terrorist" label on her transcript. Ficker believes the girl’s record should be expunged and she be offered an apology. The parents are considering a lawsuit.

Last evening, I was at the Malaysia Airlines Academy to attend the Kelana Bilingual Toastmasters Club meeting. I was there because club president Jamila Khan kindly gave me a speaking slot. And so I delivered my CC speech # 6 titled “Love is Blind” and I was subsequently evaluated by a friend and Toastmaster, Foong Weng Tuck (D’Utama Advanced TMC). I also took part in the Table Topics session and was voted Best TT Speaker. It was generally, a fun meeting and I was happy to give it a score of a 7 out of a 10.

No comments: