Reviews of children's and young adult books old and new

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Guns in School

I was talking with a teacher from the DC area yesterday (my husband's aunt) about my blog post of Roald Dahl's poem "Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf". She was saying that this poem, with the original illustrations that I had posted (to the right), would no longer be allowed in her school because of the image of the gun. That got me thinking about what exactly was forbidden in schools today. Are all images of guns forbidden, even those on a police or army officer, who are allowed/supposed to have the weapon? And is it just the images of guns that are not allowed. Can guns be mentioned in a book or poem? If you take every book that has a gun mentioned in it out of schools you are going to be removing a lot of classic literature. I think there was even a gun in Black Beauty, although I could be wrong about that.

My next question is, are other images of weapons allowed? I realize that guns are more prevalent in society than bows and arrows or even knives but they can still be used as a deadly weapon. And does intent with the weapon matter? If a fourth grader is learning about the Civil or Revolutionary War are they not allowed to look at photographs or paintings that depict soldiers or civilians with guns? One assignment I remember getting throughout elementary school was to come up with my own illustration for a chapter in a book we were reading as a class. If that book had guns in it for whatever reason would I not be allowed to illustrate that?

I understand the need to teach children that guns are not toys and not something to be taken lightly or used, but does removing all images of guns from school accomplish that goal? I also realize that every school is different and has come up with their own set of rules for this sort of issue. I am curious what you think about this rule of no images of guns in schools, and if you know similar rules in your area.


  1. Stuff like this always seems so bizarre to me. Isn't it better to teach kids that guns are dangerous and that they are something to be taken seriously rather than to simply pretend that they don't exist? Obviously, guns *do* exist, and at one point or another, kids are going to find out about them. Like it or not, guns are a fact of life. Wouldn't it be better to shape kids' attitudes about guns early instead of just covering our eyes and plugging our ears and denying their existence completely? That's not even touching the ridiculous assumption that if a kid sees a picture of a gun, he or she will automatically be rendered someone who can't help but perpetrate some violence with one, which is, I assume, at least part of the reason for such a ban. I guess people still think it's way easier to do something asinine like remove all references to guns from schools rather than really ask the hard questions about why school shooting tragedies are happening.

    *steps off soapboax*

  2. My school is emphatetic about not allowing guns, it is also because Dr. Montessori preached more about a peaceful classroom,environment,and even world but she was also not a big fan of fantasy, she didn't mind imagination.

  3. Megan,
    I understand where you are coming from. You bring up a lot of great points. I was thinking about Dahl's work specifically, and it struck me that it is a little disturbing to have Red Riding Hood shoot the wolf. But for some reason it doesn't seem as disturbing when a woodsman comes in and takes an ax to the wolf. Many children's stories are violent, and I think that children need those stories to learn the difference between reality and fantasy. I agree that taking all images of guns out of school does nothing to help with the reality of the damage that guns can do.

    I have a lot of respect for the Momtessori schools, they seem to greatly value imagination and exploration. Maybe a more flexible policy is the way to go.