Imagine this. A little girl is getting ready for school. She has her lunch, her latest work of art, a jacket if it’s cold…and her No Suicide Contract.
America, have you lost your collective shit?
I’m looking specifically at you, Alabama. Yes, I am about to throw you collectively together as a state. Right, wrong, or indifferent.
Why am I singling out Alabama? Because a public elementary school in Mobile made a 5-year-old sign a “No-Suicide-Contract.”
You read that right.
This is so epically and foundationally stupid as to be offensive…but I guess when you’re the 5th worst in the country insofar as education is concerned, we shouldn’t be so surprised. When less than 70% of your high schoolers actually graduate, it’s hard to back you up.
Let’s look at the ineptitude surrounding this situation:
- Five-year-olds can’t conceptualize what a contract means. How can you hold a child responsible for a legal document if you have to define what suicide means to her?! The poor kid had no idea what it meant and had to ask her mom to explain it. Can you imagine having that whimsical conversation with your kid? “Oh, sweetie, suicide is when someone kills themselves and leaves lives shattered all around them.” No pressure, junior.
- The kid drew a crayon gun and said the word “Pew” twice while pointing the aforementioned crayon at another kid. Are you kidding me? I’m not saying it’s not worth a conversation, but as a kid who grew up playing “guns” and “cops and robbers” it isn’t worth this over-the-top reaction. Maybe telling little Suzie that kind of thing isn’t okay should have been the end of it. Maybe not reacting in such a way as to plant that indelible seed of taking one’s own life as an option would have been a smarter way to handle it.
- Let’s pretend for a second the kid has a grasp on suicide and violates the contract. What then? School gonna posthumously sue her? The fact that I typed those sentences at all is proof of how f’n ridiculous this entire thing is.
Kids express themselves, folks. I’m pretty freaking far from chalking most things up to “kids will be kids”…that is the battle cry of the overly tolerant and/or uninvolved parent.
With that in mind, though, reacting this way is patently ridiculous. All that needed to happen was for a responsible (important distinction) adult to talk to the kid in an appropriate way. For example…
Little Suzie: Pew-pew
Adult: Suzie, pretending to shoot someone isn’t okay, sweetie.
Maybe Suzie has an older sibling (or parent) that is a cop or a solider. Maybe that sibling (or parent) plays First Person Shooters. Maybe Suzie’s folks let her watch entertainment that is inappropriate. Maybe this simply isn’t that big of a deal.
I’m not naive enough to think that violence in school doesn’t exist. But it certainly isn’t being perpetrated by kindergarteners.
The only kindergartener-on-kindergartener violence we ever hear of is of the pushing and/or toy-stealing variety.
I can only help but wonder if they made the 5-year-old girl sign her name with the same crayon.
Question: In your opinion, what would have been the best way to handle this situation? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Feature image courtesy of Flickr and Laffy4K