By Ben Velderman

SUFFOLK, Va. – Two seven-year-old boys were suspended from their elementary school earlier this week for pointing pencils at each other and making gun noises.

Ban PencilsThe Associated Press reports the two boys were playing with one another in class last Friday when the teacher observed their behavior.

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The teacher told the boys to stop, which they immediately did, the AP reports.

According to parent Paul Marshall, his son was pretending to be a Marine and his friend was pretending to be “a bad guy.”

Suffolk Public Schools spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw said the boys’ imaginative play violated the school’s zero-tolerance policy, which has been in place for at least two decades.

“Some children would consider it threatening, who are scared about shootings in schools or shootings in the community,” Bradshaw told the AP. “Kids don’t think about ‘Cowboys and Indians’ anymore. They think about drive-by shootings and murders and everything they see on television news every day.”

In simpler times, this “incident” would have been a nonevent. In fact, it would have been considered normal boy behavior and an indication that the children have healthy imaginations.

But in America’s new hypersensitive and feminized culture, any reference to guns is treated as anti-social and dangerous. Things have gotten so out of whack that some zero-tolerance policies even forbid the drawing of a gun.

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In our view, Suffolk school leaders should scrap their rigid and (slightly mindless) zero tolerance policy. Instead, they should treat these minor incidents as learning opportunities. After all, teaching kids how to think and behave is still the reason schools exist, right?

In the future, Suffolk officials could explain to students why their behavior was inappropriate and warn them that there will be consequences if they do it again.

That’s a policy everyone could support.

But this zero tolerance approach strikes many Americans as ridiculous.

As Paul Marshall (the parent) said, “Enough is enough. I see it as the tail is now wagging the dog.”

Very well put.