Some 2,700 teens aged 16-19 died in car crashes in 2010, the most recent year for which the federal agency’s website has figures, and 282,000 were injured. So, the nation’s schools have rightly implemented programs that teach teens to be safer drivers.
Yet, suppose educators instead declared that cars themselves were harmful instruments of death and destruction with no useful purpose.
Then they began punishing students at all ages, even down to kindergarten level, for such “offenses” as drawing pictures of cars, bringing toy cars to school or even mentioning the word “car.”
You’d likely think this was an extreme overreaction, a textbook example of irrational behavior that was likely to punish innocent students for harmless words and actions.
Now, substitute the word “guns” for “cars,” and you have a description of what appears to be a widespread mindset on the part of school officials nationwide that one psychologist and family doctor has called “psychotic.”
School shootings are horrific crimes as well as tragedies (though annual deaths from them run 1 percent to 2 percent of the automobile total) and there is every reason to try to stop them.
Teenagers also die in inner-city gang warfare and by suicide, but those are social problems, and guns are not the reasons they occur.
In truth, there are effective and ineffective ways of addressing any problem. Schools’ “zero tolerance” policies that punish children for words and actions that create absolutely no danger to anyone are not only unjust, they border on ideologically motivated child abuse.
It’s often said that “Zero tolerance equals zero thought,” and “overreaction” is what happens when people go beyond the bounds of reason, allowing emotion to take over.
And when those in authority overreact, people’s rights get trampled.