An 11-year-old South Florida girl has been suspended for six days after she brought a butter knife to school to cut a piece of fruit. Now her parents, who say she is an honor role student at Silver Trail Middle School, are outraged at what they view to be a disproportionally harsh punishment for an innocuous act.
"There's no one there trying to educate and to be reasonable to say, 'Let's work this out,'" dad Ronald Souto told ABC 10 News. "This is a set of a spoon, fork, and knife for toddlers," adds her mom, Andrea Souto. "It is made for children to learn how to eat properly. She's used it since she was a baby."
But the school has a different take on knifegate, saying the 11-year-old violated the county's weapon policy. "The school followed district policy regarding this incident and continues to work with the student and parents involved," a Broward County school district spokeswoman said. "It is the district's priority to maintain safe and secure campuses for students and staff at all times."
The girl's parents maintain she was simply trying to cut a peach to share it with friends at lunch, and no one's safety was compromised at any point. And now they fear criminal charges could be next.
According to ABC 10, after the Soutos met with school administrators, the suspension was reduced to three days. But even that seems like a dramatic response to what took place. Couldn't the parents have been informed that their daughter is not allowed to bring the butter knife to school again? Sadly, our overreactive culture—based on horrible things we've seen happen in schools, no doubt—seems to mean that there can be no leniency, or common sense, anymore.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of coffee.