Should we punish kids for something they say even though we know they wouldn't act on it?
My 6-year old son got frustrated with a friend (one of his best friends) and told him that if his buddy will not return a suspected toy, he'll kill him. Of course, I was called and a meeting for my son with an assistant principle was scheduled. To my surprise, close to midnight I received a telephone call from the the police, as the mother of the boy filed a police report. She also complained to the school district, as, maybe the school and the police were not enough. I thought that children will play and fight and say things that are extreme on a frequent basis. I think, that if every adult would be charged with an intent to rape someone, every time they say f.. you, or get married with every I love you, or charged with a terrorist threat with every I hate you, or if you don't put your socks in the wash, I'll kill you-we would not have any people enjoying the freedom. I am not taking a matter lightly, but we have to account for children's abundance of impulsivity (especially with mine, who is most likely ADHD), inability to process what dying or killing may actually imply. School suggested taking all the toy guns away from him (he mentioned that he liked it), but those are sold with a markings of 6+ age appropriate. Power Rangers and Ben 10 are all destroying the enemy. Before Ben 10, there were other heroes or characters that boys liked to play. I am lost....
<p>Hi annushka17, What a difficult situation to be in with your son. I'm sorry you're going through this. I think unfortunately in today's world, the school and police have no choice but to take it very seriously when a student says something like “I'll kill you‚". In many cases, when violence and tragedies do occur we learn that there were threats made ahead of time that went ignored because no one believed the kid would actually go through with it. And tragically, there are cases of six year olds intentionally shooting and killing their friends after arguments over toys. I'm sure your son has no intention of killing his friend, but everyone who's responding to that sentence is doing their job exactly as they've been trained to do them. And even the other boy's mom (who called the police) is doing what she thinks is best to protect her child. I agree with you that people in our society use language carelessly, but the examples you gave really aren't quite comparable. When someone says, “I love you“ or "I hate you" they're expressing feelings but they're not promising to take action (they're not committing to get married or threatening to carry out a terrorist attack). So authority figures can't, and shouldn't, take any action when people express strong feelings. But when someone says, “I'll kill you" they are indicating that they are going to take action and authority figures do have to follow up. If your son had expressed strong feelings (“I feel really angry that you took my toy and won't return it") neither the school nor the police would need to be involved. I think that's what your son has to learn in this experience. He needs to know that it's very frightening to other people to be threatened. He knows he would never actually kill his friend (and so do you). But his friend doesn't know that and may have gotten really scared when your son said that. So the thing you can do to help him is give him other tools to use in situations like this one so that he doesn't have to resort to threats. Good luck, I know this is a really stressful time for you as a mom.</p>
You cannot compare what adults say or do with the actions of a child. We have a much more refined sense of what is real and what is simply talk. Impulsiveness is one thing but your job is to teach your kids to control it and that it is never OK to threaten someone with violence. If they behave that way and get away with it they will become verbally abusive in the future. Don't you want him to grow up to be kind and gentle? Of course what he said probably does not mean anything. But in this day and age you simply cannot condone kids using that kind of language. So yes you should absolutely punish him and he should be suspended from school for a few days. He needs to know that what he said is a very big deal, be ashamed of it, and be sorry. Just because a toy gun says it's 6+ age appropriate doesn't mean it's a good idea to let your kids play with it. The companies that make the product are in it for the money. They will comply with the laws of the land but are not concerned about the implications of putting toy guns in the hands of children. I'm not going to get into whther that is appropriate or not. I just simply want to point out that you should make your own decision about whether your kid should play with guns. Not just say it's OK because the company says it's OK.
no you're dead wrong your child no matter the age should not threaten another childs life out of anger or not... you as the parent should teach your child better ways of handling their anger! The child should be punished to the full extent of the law and if i were the parent i would take every legal action available against you and your child