Our screwed up system

A 10-year-old Florida girl faces felony weapons charges after bringing a small steak knife to school to cut up her lunch, according to a report on WFTV.com.

School officials say the Ocala 5th grader had brought a piece of steak for her lunch, and had brought a steak knife. According to the report, a couple of teachers took the utensil and called authorities, who arrested the girl and took her to the county’s juvenile assessment center.

"She did not use it inappropriately. She did not threaten anyone with it. She didn't pull it out and brandish it. Nothing of that nature," explained Marion County School Spokesman Kevin Christian, who added that it made no difference what the knife was being used for, they had no choice but to call police.

"Anytime there's a weapon on campus, yes, we have to report it and we aggressively report it because we don't want to take any chances, regardless," Christian said.

The girl now faces a felony charge for possessing a weapon on school property and has been suspended from school for 10 days. The parents of the girl could not be reached for comment, WFTV.com reported.

So now in our society, children arent allowed to bring silverware into schools, but if little Molly'd have been caught with a bunch of condoms, or an appointment slip to an abortion clinic, nothing more would've been said...

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Yeah, I read that this morning. In Florida, of all places.

I don't believe Kevin Christian when he states that the school officials don't have a choice in the matter. Officials do have a choice; they just decided that they'd lean on a ten year old girl today. Tomorrow, some little boy will catch it.

Can you imagine how scared a ten year old would be if they were picked up from school and taken away by the police?

I guess my question is, what would the local schools do in a case like this one. In my old jail, back in the bad old days, the keeper of the keys would have let the kid finish lunch and then might, might have taken the knife away until quitting time. It's more likely that the kid would be told not to play around with the knife in class.

Mad Jack
Mad Jack's Shack

My kid (who is younger) knows not to take a knife to school and I know not to give him one in his lunchbox. I feel that it is the parent's fault that this happened and the parent should be held accountable, not the child. Most likely, charges will be dropped unless this family has already had problems with the school or the law.

The problem is not that this child had a knife to use during lunch but that this "weapon" was accessible to others who might not use it "appropriately".

"I guess my question is, what would the local schools do in a case like this one."
Actually, this happened to a neighbor of ours about three years ago when her son was nine or ten. The mother sent a paring knife with the kid so that he could cut an apple. The mom got called and the kid was sent home for the day. Both were read the riot act. This was a case of stupid parent - the kid didn't even know it was in there because the mom always packed his lunch for him.

So, in the Maumee case, I agreed with the punishment because the kid was innocent.

... is the point. Those officials are trying to scare children into associating huge and nondeserving punishments arriving due to being armed. That's how those people think, and those fucking yuppies almost uniformly hate weapons in the hands of citizens. You betcha!

I don't think the 10 year old should be charged with a felony regarding this incident.

But...in line with what MaumeeMom said...what kind of idiot parent sends their 10 year old kid to school with a steak knife?

This incident happened just four days after a 7yo threatened another student with a knife...

From the WFTV.com site:
7-Year-Old Girl Accused Of Threatening Student With Knife
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- Channel 9 has learned a young girl with a knife threatened another student at Pine Hills Elementary School on Monday and she's only seven years old.

The sheriff's office has not said what charges might be filed against the second-grade girl. Both children involved in the classroom incident were taken home by their parents Monday.

"A knife," fellow student Javon told Eyewitness News.

Javon said he saw it all in his second-grade classroom, a classmate making a death threat before the weapon was found.

"She said that she told this girl in class that she was gonna kill the other girl," Javon said.

The school district would not provide any details of the incident, but the sheriff's office said it was a four-inch pairing knife that was found when school officials searched the girl's backpack.

Renee Harris cares for more than half a dozen kids with a after school child care program at Pine Hills Elementary. She said it was no surprise.

"Unfortunately, no, it doesn't surprise me, because it's happening more and more. Parents have got to teach their kids before they send them out," Harris said.

In the last few weeks, Superintendent Ron Blocker sent a warning by telephone to parents in the district that if students were found with weapons there would be strict penalties.

This may be why they took such a hard stance against the 10yo.

Where at one time the teacher would just snatch up the offender and take the weapon and march them both downt o the office has turned into no tolerance at all to anything which might disrupt the educational process. Just call the cops and let them seal with it.

Zero Tolerance also applies to asprin, Midol, laxatives and such. Drugs and weapons are strictly prohibited and dispensing either without a license is a criminal act and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent.

The result of a Nanny Empire.

It's a big leap to make that some punishment of some sort from someone would not have been carried out for the condoms, etc.
"So now in our society, children arent allowed to bring silverware into schools,"
I have been out of schools for decades and I do not remember every being permitted to bring anything from home with out permission from the school or home and a steak knife is inappropriate in a school.
The school could have provided a knife for the child to use.

OK, that's one event. Personally, I think that the 7 year old cretin would have threatened the other student with whatever came to hand, but that's probably just my ignorance showing. So let's say that it was the knife's fault - if not for the knife, this incident wouldn't have happened. One incident out of six hours per day, out of all the 7 year old children in the entire state of Florida, for an entire school year. Clearly, a new law against knives is not only warranted but is long overdue.

Does anyone else see how incredibly stupid that is? How completely, totally mindless? How much longer do you think it will be before the government begins putting 7 year old children in prison for any infraction of the rules, and when that doesn't work, are we going to begin lopping off a few fingers as a fitting punishment and an example to others?

Mad Jack
Mad Jack's Shack

A 7 year old threatening another?


We do have some problems to over come and it starts with the parents.


The case gained a lot of attention as it involved a seven year old and a knife.


But there are similar cases across the country that don't make the headlines.

"How much longer do you think it will be before the government begins
putting 7 year old children in prison for any infraction of the rules,
and when that doesn't work, are we going to begin lopping off a few
fingers as a fitting punishment and an example to others?"


The laws are a reaction to an event and when the scales settle the resulting action will be in the middle, in time.



In a society as litigious as ours has become and where schools are held entirely accountable for what goes on within their walls (and often outside their walls and after school hours, even) it is very appropriate to have a zero tolerance policy for potential weapons of any kind, including steak knives. If the school had done nothing about this steak knife, then what would have happened when another student brought a knife to school for more sinister purposes? I'll tell you what - that parent would claim that her child was being singled out for some reason. It would have turned into a legal circus. School districts do not have the luxury of using their good judgment in situations like these. It isn't up to them to divine motive or which student is a 'good kid' and probably meant no harm by bringing a knife to school. It seems ludicrous, but at the same time, would you want the district to misjudge a situation and let a potentially dangerous student off with a warning? The media would have a field day if that happened. So, districts exercise the utmost caution and zero tolerance in situations like these.

It seems extreme for felony charges to be brought agains students, but schools cannot be expected to be judge and jury. School districts have enough on their plates as it is. Schools feed children, provide nursing care, dental care, before and after school care, counselling, etc. They've become a social service these days rather than an institution of learning. Society has decided that it is the schools that are responsible for caring for children rather than the parents' responsibility. How can anyone be upset when schools take a hard line with regards to weapons?

Finally, imagine that you are a parent of two children. You can easily take the time to listen to both sides of the story and 'get to the bottom' of disagreements between the two. But what if you are a parent of 10 children? You quickly lose the time and the patience to deal with situations in that manner. Now imagine you are a teacher of 25 students... or the superintendent of 20,000 students. It becomes less and less prudent and less and less logistically possible to deal with situations on a one by one basis.

... you have given up on the concept of justice and just want the school system to react in the same extreme as does some homeowner who calls 911 every time one of his neighbors does something that annoys him.

This system of intolerance towards DAILY MANAGEMENT cannot continue. However, it does contribute to the best thing, which is the destruction of the public school system. Just wait until schools start "screening" children to MAKE SURE (hey, gotta be sure!) they don't get any psychos in the classrooms -- or they could get sued! I can see the letter now:

"Dear Parent:

Your child ___________ was screened today in a battery of psychological tests which are designed to perform early detection of sociopathic precursors.

As a result of these tests, your child was found to fall below the minimum stability level required by this school district.

I'm sure you're aware of the district's "Zero Tolerance" policy towards unacceptable behavior. This policy does not allow us to retain your child in the district.

According to policy, you are scheduled for a follow-up meeting with a district Behavior Control Specialist. You must bring a check or money order for $79 since your child's status no longer qualifies for cost-included counseling.

A. Person, Sub-Assistant Vice Principal for Student Control"

That title, Sub-Assistant Vice Principal for Student Control sounds a little too real.

Mad Jack
Mad Jack's Shack

Public schools will never issue a letter such as the one you describe. They aren't permitted to turn away students, regardless of their antisocial behavior... brought on by parents who failed to raise their child/ren appropriately. Institutions, such as public schools, are held accountable because they CAN BE. Parents somehow are immune from accountability anymore. "Back in the day", parents were responsible for feeding and clothing their own children. They were responsible for finding jobs to support their family. They didn't continue having children they couldn't afford to raise. If they were down on their luck, they were responsible for seeking out the social services that would help them provide for their family. Now, it's the school that is responsible for all of that. I agree with what one poster said about it taking a village to raise a child. The fact that public schools DO provide so many services to children FREE OF CHARGE demonstrates their commitment to raising healthy and well cared for children. But the fact that they have adopted zero tolerance policies towards weapons in the schools is a direct reflection on the pressures placed upon them by society and the accountability they face as an institution.

To say that it's like a person calling the police every time a neighbor did something annoying is ludicrous. Bringing a knife to school violated school policy. I'm certain that parents are made aware of such policies and probably even have a handbook stating these policies. They are aware of the consequences BEFORE they choose to send their child to school with a steak knife. Is a steak knife a weapon? Not in most cases, but just check any police records for domestic disputes and tell me that steak knives haven't been used to inflict injury on another person. Is the policy too extreme? Maybe. But laws are created all the time that are arbitrary and extreme. Speed traps in small towns for example. Why reduce the speed limit from 50 to 25 for on quarter of a mile? Because they can. And you can expect to pay a hefty fine for choosing to ignore the stated speed limit, regardless of it's lack of real purpose.

Zero tolerance isn't a perfect solution, but until a better one is found, it's what we've got to deal with. The policy isn't arbitrary either. It's one that has the best interest of ALL students, parents, visitors, and employees of the district at heart. It's an extreme knee-jerk reaction to violence in schools, parent outrage about violence in schools, media coverage of violence in schools, and the ultimate accountability of the schools to make sure that violence doesn't occur in the schools. There is a middle ground, but that middle ground hasn't proved to be acceptable to parents and society. It isn't acceptable for a school district to 'make a mistake in judgment' when dealing with a student bringing a knife to school. Fear of making the wrong decision and the consequences of that for a district has caused the pendulum to swing as far to one side as it can get.

No zero tolerance policy can completely prevent violence from happening, but it helps limit the chances. And it certainly shows that the district is TRYING to make sure that violent incidents do not occur within it's walls.

Schools have been a social service in some way for many years.

It is plain to see that the social services in some communities have expanded with local, state and federal support.

As a society it is in our best interest to see that the kids are taken care of. Some say it takes a village to raise a child, when the village is lacking those that can or will, someone or some entity steps forward to fill the void.

Remembering back to the PSA's of the 70's and 80's I cannot help but wonder why they are not as prevalent anymore.




Check that situation at Columbine and then tell me all about zero tolerance and good judgment. All those zero tolerance rules people like you seek to propagate throughout the entire US have done no good at all. In fact, these rules only serve to harm the rest of us.

Go live somewhere else. England or Ireland, or anywhere the country has zero tolerance laws, rules and regulations. Both of us will be happier, and I'll be a lot safer.

Mad Jack
Mad Jack's Shack

...is that we've stopped paying attention to the 'behavior' and started regulating the 'instrument.'

A child cutting their food with a knife - using the knife only for the food - is using the instrument responsibly and posing no threat. A child using a fist and threatening to hit someone isn't using an external 'instrument' but is posing a threat.

It's the same for the TSA, focusing on innocent instruments like cold cream and razors rather than suspicious actions or behavior.

Even the concept of 'fairness' seems to be twisted - somehow it's fair to penalize a child for using an eating utensil in a responsible manner just so that someone who uses the same in a threatening manner doesn't claim discrimination. Again - the fairness would be to penalize the innappropriate behavior - not the eating utensil...after all, knife or fork, either could be used to hurt someone.

Have we lost all common sense?

A child bringing a steak knife which could be the kind with serated edges is a problem. Maybe not for the child that brought it but possibly others who could get a hold of the knife and use it.
"It's the same for the TSA, focusing on innocent instruments like cold cream and razors rather than suspicious actions or behavior."
TSA reacted to what people used to try and cause harm.
"Again - the fairness would be to penalize the innappropriate behavior - not the eating utensil...after all, knife or fork, either could be used to hurt someone."
Yes and it was inappropriate for a child to bring a steak knife to school. Take the punishment up with the parents.
The food could have been cut by a cafeteria worker?

...the last thing I'd want is some cafeteria worker cutting up my food for me. Can you imagine the teasing that child would get from everyone? What about their self-esteem? (sarcasm intended on that one)

Again - it's the BEHAVIOR, not the knife.

I think you're wasting your bandwidth. For the life of me, I've never been able to understand why some people automatically assign behavior to inanimate objects or unrelated events. I've only seen this with unwanted behavior; never associated with desired behavior.

For instance, the illustrious Ms. Thurber is a sailor of some notable repute, and is also a good citizen. Therefore, for our own good, the government should buy each person a sailboat and pass a law mandating a certain number of hours be spent under sail each year. Failure to fulfill your sailing obligation results in a fine, loss of driving privileges and possible jail time. So, for my own good and that of society, I'd like a 35 foot Cape Dory delivered to the Chicago area about the end of April. I'll be working to fulfill my quota as the sailing weather dictates.

Life isn't fair. Children are not equal. Your point about some children being much more responsible and trustworthy than others is well taken; Now how about applying it? Because in real life, that's how it works.

Mad Jack
Mad Jack's Shack

Right, the behavior brought a steak knife, into a school.
Not a butter knife, not a plastic knife, a steak knife and the knife has no place in a cafeteria with 5th. graders, does it?
The knife is the visible sign of some asleep at the wheel at the child's house. Sure we cannot monitor their every move but some one, other than the child needs to be held accountable.
Is that focused enough?

...I thought it was a steak knife to cut the steak in her lunch.

But it doesn't matter what 'kind' of knife it was. If the child was capable of using it appropriately, then the behavior (of the parents and the child) was fine.

I find it interesting that no one said the child did anything inappropriate in terms of how the knife was used - just that they have a zero-tolerance policy.

So the policy is to regulate the 'instruments' and not the behavior.

That's what the focus should be on - the behavior in terms of how instruments are used ... not on the fact that such an 'instrument' exists.

I thought it was a steak knife to cut the steak in her lunch.

Yes, supposedly, the child had a knife to cut her steak but the problem is that the knife couldn’t' be under her control at all times. Say Johnny with an anger problem saw her cutting her steak at lunch and then, responsibly, putting the knife back in her sack to take home with her. Johnny Angry has a problem with Rob sometime in the afternoon. Johnny gets a potty pass and on his way back into the classroom he stops at Susie's locker and takes the knife from her lunchbox. Johnny then threatens Rob with it.

Highly unlikely? Yes. Impossible? No.

Knives are banned from school - that is the policy.
In my opinion, this is a good policy.

Unless this girl packed her own lunch, which I doubt, the parent is responsible for allowing that weapon into the school and, in my opinion, the parent should be held accountable.

Kids need to feel safe in school and that is why many of these policies are in effect and are enforced.

"That's what the focus should be on - the behavior in terms of how
instruments are used ... not on the fact that such an 'instrument'

It wasn't from the get go?

The whole ball of wax revolved around the fact that a knife was brought in, wasn't?

"But it doesn't matter what 'kind' of knife it was. If the child was
capable of using it appropriately, then the behavior (of the parents
and the child) was fine."

It matters that an object that can cause harm if used for the purpose of causing harm and not slicing a hunk of dead animal.

I still cannot understand the reactions that bringing a steak knife to school is some how acceptable.



The zero tolerance policy focuses on the instrument rather than on the behavior because you can't wait for a child who intends to use the instrument to cause harm to do just that. To have a zero tolerance policy for MISUSE of a weapon on school grounds is silly. Are you saying that it's ok for schools to allow knives as long as no one stabs someone with them? How would you know when a student is going to do just that? The answer is that you do not know when someone is going to inflict injury on someone else with such weapons. Therefore, the only way to try to prevent that is to outlaw the weapon itself.

a very valid point. There's no way schools can prevent bad behavior - they can only deal with it after the fact. So, let's prohibit guns and knives in schools. Ok...but someone who really wants to do harm with those insturments isn't going to let a silly little thing like a ban on such instruments get in the way.

So - you can cause harm with a fork...people have been stabbed with forks...let's ban them too. High heels have been used to stab people with - let's ban high heels. And more kids are harmed by another's fist than they are by instruments ... are we going to ban kids from ever making a fist? (oops...now that I've given them the idea, that's probably next!)

My point wasn't the knife - it was the lack of common sense and the warped sense of 'fairness' that says arresting a 10-year-old who used a utensil properly is the right way to go.

I understand your point, Maumee Mom, that rules are rules and should be followed. (and I don't necessarily disagree)

My issue is the rule. If we're going to ban everything that can be used to cause harm, where does it end? At what point do we realize that we can't possibly ban all things that have the potential, if used in an unintended way, to cause harm?

Look at the ridiculousness that is the TSA - telling women they can't bring lotion on the plane if it's over 3 oz. Is this insanity spreading to our schools? And at what point does common sense take over?

I agree that the list of items that could cause harm is endless... and the parallel between this situation and what 911 has done to our travel here in the U.S. and elsewhere is obvious. You can't ban every single thing that might cause harm. But who here can say that knives haven't always been considered a weapon? For centuries, knives have been associated with inflicting harm on others. A butter knife? No. But a steak knife? Absolutely. If she had had a plastic serrated knife, that would've been another story. But steak knives have been used in any number of domestic situations to cause harm. Yes, in this case, she was using it to cut up her steak. But if you allow her to have a steak knife, even for the proper use of cutting her meat, then what's to stop any other student from bringing a knife (possibly even with a steak to provide a convenient excuse for it) to school? I agree that common sense must prevail. But as you know, history is replete with instances of the pendulum swinging all the way to the left after something happened before it finally settled somewhere in the middle again.

Liability becomes the issue. No one wants to be liable, especially a school system, for allowing harm to come to a person on their watch. Obviously, they can't ban everything, especially fists, but to allow something that common sense tells you is dangerous onto your property, opens you up for liability when that item is used to harm another.

Imagine the shock you'd feel reading a story about a student who used her stiletto heels to stab another student in the bathroom at school. You'd be shocked at what the world is coming to... about the lengths to which a student will go to harm someone else. But you wouldn't blame the school for allowing it to happen... the onus would be on the student and perhaps her parents, NOT on the school. Schools need to protect themselves, because as an institution, they are held to a higher standard than parents or even the student who commits such violent acts.

The story about a student who stabs another student with a steak knife would inspire a much different reaction from the public. Parents would wonder why students were allowed to bring knives to school. They'd want to know what was being done to protect their children from harm during school hours. They'd feel the incident could be forseen, as there ARE violent children in schools nationwide. They'd blame the district for not implementing a policy banning such weapons from school grounds.

And while we're on 'common sense'... let's just ask this question: Who sends steak for lunch for a ten year old? No one I knew growing up brought anything but sandwiches and Oreo cookies for lunch.

It seems that emotion has taken the helm and clouds the discussion.

A child has no reason to bring a steak knife to school.

Like smartex commented; "No one I knew growing up brought anything but sandwiches and Oreo cookies for lunch."

Ditto for me and my three kids.


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