Chalk up another brilliant school suspension to the zero-tolerance police. The perpetrator this time? A 5-year-old with a *gasp* plastic bubble gun.

A local news station reports:

“The girl’s mother, who goes by Emma, said she was shocked when she got a call from the school telling her she needed to pick up her daughter and take her home.

‘If they had contacted me and said can you make sure this doesn’t happen again, we just want you to be aware, I think that would have been a more appropriate way to handle the situation. Could we have a warning? It blows bubbles,’ she said.”

The little girl’s mother continued by explaining where the real source of her irritation lies:

“‘I don’t want her to miss out on class. That’s a silly reason not to go to school. What bugs me is this is going to be something they can refer to if we have any issues in the future which I don’t foresee, but it’s always going to be lingering there in her school file,’ she said.”

According to The Washington Post, this latest suspension is an outgrowth of the attempt to eliminate guns – and by association, violence – from schools, which began under President Clinton. While nobody wants to encourage violence, the WaPo notes that, “excessive zero-tolerance policies can also inadvertently send more children through the criminal justice system, as suspensions have been linked to higher dropout rates and more interaction with law enforcement.”

As the suspended student in this case seems to be an innocent little girl, the chances that she’ll turn into a felon because of one suspension seem slim.

But what if this incident damages her in other respects?

In the last several years, many parents have seen the need to restore the spirit of creativity, free play, and imagination in their children. The little girl in the bubble gun incident seems to have embraced this idea through her eagerness to bring her plaything along to school.

But will this suspension end up discouraging her from creative, energetic play? And does society’s overcautious attitude toward children end up hurting them more

Image Credit: Joe Shlabotnik