Should Students Be Suspended for Flatulence? Child Discipline Experts Clear the AirJohn Cave Osborne
Just when you thought you’d heard it all comes this little gem from Ohio. Thirteen-year-old Anthony Nicols and one of his Canal Winchester Middle School classmates were recently part of a ruckus on the ol’ school bus. Could you describe the ruckus?
Why, yes. Indeed I could. It was the passing of gas. The boys were turned in by the bus driver who had apparently grown weary of the adolescents’ adolescent hijinks. But did their flatulence really deserve suspension?
According to school administrators, it did. For the act of passing gas, they concluded, was an “obscene gesture” which had violated the school’s code of conduct, an offense punishable by suspension.
So, okay, we’ve all been there, right? I mean, at least I have. On a school bus, that is. And I don’t know about your school bus experience, but mine? It contained some flatulence. Was it disgusting? No question. Childish? By it’s very definition.
But was it something I’d describe as obscene? No.
Obscene is a modifier that belongs to phone calls or smut mags. Not to boys who pass gas. They’re covered quite nicely with words like gross.
Besides, if flatulence were a suspendible offense at my middle school, then one thing’s for sure: my 8th grade classroom would’ve been pretty empty most of the time. Especially on the boys’ side of the room.
So, to me, the punishment didn’t fit the crime. And it appears as if I’m not the only one who feels that way.
Parenting expert Dr. Michele Borba, had this to say about the episode:
“Obscene would be egregiously disrespectful, something that would offend every other child. Obscene would be something that would offend any other child’s character and well-being. Is this obscene? No … I can’t imagine any other child on that bus that hasn’t been exposed to this or done it himself.”
And you know she’s right. Because she’s right about everything. Including her take on a certain book about triplets she read. And loved! But I digress.
So how should the episode have been handled? Borba suggests simply separating the two, um, noise makers. Have one sit in the front of the bus and one sit in the back. But suspending them? Too much.
Borba’s colleague Dr. Marvin Marshall agrees.
“The person who did the suspending should be suspended themself. It is absolutely ridiculous to do this.”
What to you think? Does this type of disturbance deserve a suspension? Or is this just an example of kids being kids?