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My son threatened to shoot another child in his class. Help! LOOOONNNG!
Imagine my shock when my husband and I received a call from his first grade teacher informing us that he said to a girl in his class, "I am going to bring a bullet to school and kill you."
His teacher tells me on a weekly basis that she "adores" or "loves" my son immensely and says that he is the most "polite student she's ever had" (She has been teaching for 20+ years). She has told me that whenever she has to reprimand my son, he looks at her with an ashamed look on his face and says, "I'm sorry, Mrs. ____." In fact, the morning before the threat and the morning of the day the threat occurred, I was helping in my son's classroom. I, of course, always pay attention to my son and thought to myself, "I am so lucky to have a son that is so nice, such a good student, and well-liked by his classmates." Ironic, huh? (Maybe I was getting a little to conceited and needed to be brought back to earth!)
Okay--so here's the rest of the story:
When my son's teacher called and told us what had occurred, she kind of chuckled and said that she truly didn't think he knew the implications of what he was saying and that she felt comfortable in handling the situation by herself and with us alone. She said that if she reported the situation to the school principal, the principal, whom also knows my son and likes him, would have no choice but to follow protocol and suspend him for a few days. I'm relieved at this but also worry that he will not have to experience deep enough consequences for his actions.
Since being informed by the teacher, I have tried extremely hard to take this situation very seriously and to handle it correctly. First, I immediately called the mother of the girl that my son threatened. I told her exactly what happened, offered my deep apology and assured her that the situation would not be taken lightly at home and that my son will be receiving some serious consequences in an effort to make him understand the depth of this situation. I also informed her that we are not a "gun family" and that my son has absolutely NO ACCESS to guns. I promised her that my son would be writing a sincere apology to her daughter and that we would be willing to do anything to make sure her daughter is okay after all of this.
Next, I called the mother of one of my son's closest friends, explained the situation and canceled the sleepover that we'd scheduled for that night. We took this opportunity to talk about guns and assured each other that there are no guns in our homes. She was shocked to hear what my son had said and also felt that it was completely out of character for him. She feels, as does everyone else I've told, that my son is a very good boy and spoke on impulse, without thinking about it.
When I picked up my son from school, I ran into the little girl (victim) in the hall and asked her if she was okay. I apologized for my son and assured her that he would be receiving a strong punishment for what he had said. She said she was okay and truly did seem so. I was surprised that, upon seeing my son then too, he seemed happy and had completely forgotten about the incident. It bothered me. I whispered to him that we were going to have a "serious talk" about what he had said to "girl". At this, he started to cry.
I stayed until all the kids had left and talked to the teacher. She was still very lighthearted about the situation and told me that when she called my son to her desk immediately after "the incident" he had burst into tears and sobbed and sobbed about what he had said. I need to mention that he is a very heavy-hearted boy (just like me, obviously) and absolutely hates to disappoint anyone.
When we got home I asked him to tell me exactly what had happened. He said that the little girl had been annoying him by grabbing his hand (so that he couldn't write) while he was trying to copy state facts from an overhead projector onto a worksheet. He said that the boy sitting on the other side of him (their desks are pushed together) told him that he could bring in a Nerf gun, put a real bullet in it and shoot her and the principal(!). According to my son, he then turned to the girl and made his lovely "statement". Another little girl at the table of desks ran to the teacher and told her what had happened. The teacher immediately called my son to her desk.
As for consequences, my husband and I have taken away all video game priveleges that involve fighting and or weapons. We do not allow much of this as a rule but had, after he played the game at several friends' homes, purchased the Lego Star Wars game for him. I guess we felt that, although, there is shooting and weapons in the game, the fact that there is no blood and gore and only broken Lego guys made it acceptable. We also monitor all movies and TV our kids watch but had allowed him to see the Star Wars movies (with us, at home) after he saw one at a friend's house (without our permission) and loved it. We have always tried to limit TV time and video game time to an hour or less per day but, admittedly, have slackened on this from time to time--mostly due to our need for time to get things done. I am ashamed of myself for this.
I had such a great, heart-to-heart talk with my son after school. He was very remorseful, embarrassed and ashamed of himself. He is worried that everyone will "hate" him now. He called himself, "the stupidest kid in the world". I told him that it was not the end of the world and that he had simply said a very stupid thing. Normally, we don't allow the word "stupid" in our home. I felt that saying it now might help emphasize the seriousness of the situation. I told him that he had basically said to his classmate, "I want to make you die." This made him cry more. I asked him if he really hoped she would die and he cried an said, "no". I deeply feel that he did not mean what he said.
I asked him if he would like me to take him to meet a police officer so that he could learn how serious what he had said was. He got hysterical and said, "No." We talked about a recent school shooting that started exactly the same way as his situation had: A six-year-old boy threatened to kill a little girl and brought a gun to school the next day and killed her. We talked about that girls' family and what was now happening to the little boy. We talked about how her parents would never be able to feel happy again and that the boy who shot her could never have a happy life. I told him the boy would have to leave his mommy and daddy's home and live in a jail for kids that was full of mean kids and, as a result, he would probably grow up to be a mean and bad person. We both thought the story was very sad for everyone involved but especially for everyone the girl knew. I explained the impact of the girl being "gone" forever.
Being the "solve my problems by committee" person that I am, I called the rest of my son's friends mother's and told them what happened. All were very shocked and did not believe that he could possibly have meant it. In addition, I called the parents of the boy that had suggested (according to my son) that Dallas get a bullet for a Nerf gun and shoot the girl and the principal. I felt terrible making this call but felt that it was the right thing to do. They may have been offended which is unfortunate as I like them very much and do not believe that their son meant anything by what he said, either.
I have been all over the internet looking for advice on how to handle this. I'm so worried that I am not doing enough to allow myself and others to "forgive" my son for his actions and to remove all worries that my son is a "bad kid". Every site I come upon, however, is full of appalled parents reacting to exactly the same situation from the victim's perspective. It scares me to death.
I was thinking of asking the first grade teachers if I could arrange for a police officer to their classes and talk about gun threats and violence to the group as a whole.
Please advise--am I handling this correctly? Should I do more? Does my son need more treatment?
Thank you for your time--I'm so sorry for writing "a novel". I just wanted to include all of my facts.