I really could use the feedback of more experienced parents. My one and only is 7 yrs old and I'm new to understand how schools works, etc.
My son came home the other day and said a kid on the school bus had a pocket knife. He said it scared him to see the knife. A few other kids saw it too. My DS wanted me to email the principal. I went ahead and sent the principal the information I had. The following day, the kids who I had listed in my email as witnesses (two were 1st graders, two were 2nd graders) were all asked to go to the principal. She asked them to write about anything that scared them on the bus. Afterwards, the kids were sent back to their classrooms. I was emailed by the principal that the situation was being handled and that was it. Later, the kids were told they could not talk to anyone about this other than their teacher.
Can anyone help me understand the reason they are not allowed to talk about this? I'm assuming it's to not spread rumors. But I just need to get an understanding of this. My son processes things by talking about them and will have a hard time keeping this to himself. He's still shaken up by it and worried the boy with the pocket knife might come after him. As far as I know, his worry is unfound.
Thanks for your feeback.
I would clarify with the principal. I can't imagine that they would expect that the children would not talk to their parents about this. If the principal really does want to limit them to talking to the teacher, then that is inappropriate and unenforceable. I understand that the school would not want the children gossiping about the incident to other students or anyone else besides their own parents. Likely, some kid just wanted to show off his pocket knife. It's easy to inflate it into something it wasn't e.g. a machete-wielding gang-banger threatening to harm the students.
The school administration can't breach confidentiality and give any details about the incident, who was involved or any consequences. However, I don't think it would be amiss to send home a letter without any details to parents to ease any fears since the rumour mill is probably active now. That's up to the principal though.
Is your son familiar with knives? I would discuss safety with knives and how to handle them appropriately. Whittling is a fun activity, although usually for slightly older children. I think my DS had his first pocket knife when he was 8 or 9 y.o. He knew that it was strictly forbidden to carry it or take it to school. We explained that he would be in a lot of trouble if he did not follow all of the safety rules for using it.
If you haven't already spoken to your DS about how to respond if something like this happens again, it's a good idea. Explain that he should not try to handle a knife or any other dangerous object (such as, heaven forbid, a gun or needles). He should remove himself from the area, although admittedly that's difficult to do on a moving bus. He should notify a responsible adult - in this case, the bus driver or bus supervisor or a teacher at the school - as soon as possible, so that they can try to prevent anyone from getting hurt.
If he knows what to do in future, and that he did the right thing in telling you about it, he may start to feel a little better about the incident.
I had emailed the Principal a non-specific email wanting to know how my son will be impacted and I let her know how anxious he was. I saw my son for lunch (he had asked me to join him, needing some extra reassurance) and stopped by her office, I was told that she was busy with meetings all day. I am not sure what I can expect from the school, what information they will give and how to approach getting that information. I have heard of parents getting stone-walled when things like this happen.
We are also heading into spring break so I'm not sure if the adminstration will be reachable or not today.
I am also wondering how to handle neighbors and such. Should I share any info with my neighbors ( I know them on an acquaintance level) about the incident or leave it up to the school to diviluge any info? I don't want any fingers pointed at me or my son for "ratting" out a child. I try to keep an extremely low-profile. I had a bad experience in high school that led me to feel paranoid about telling on people, if that makes sense.
I do appreciate all your suggestions. I will definitely talk about knife safety and what to do in any situations like this.
I wouldn't be talking to the neighbors about this. That's a potential can of drama that you do not want to open, and it has almost nothing to do with the knife on the bus, it's more about getting yourself labeled in the neighborhood as the crazy lady who tried to start neighborhood drama about a kid having a pocketknife on the bus.
I wasn't on the bus, and I don't know what all happened. I would trust the school to reiterate and enforce their rules about pocketknives and bus behavior. I would appreciate it if they circled back to tell me they were doing that, and if I didn't hear anything, I would get in touch with the principal and ask.
When I was seven or so, a pocketknife was a totally appropriate thing for a kid my age to have, and I wanted one because they were just so cool. When I was a little older, I used my allowance to buy a Swiss Army knife, which I put on my keychain. No one found this to be a cause for alarm or concern. My inclination is to suspect that a 7yo with a pocketknife thinks it's cool and wants to show it off. As a parent, I would be opposed to showing your friends your knife on the bus because naked blades in moving vehicles aren't safe. If school rules forbade children to have knives, I would insist that it be left at home, and if I heard that some child besides mine was bringing knives in, I would raise it with the school administration to make sure that spotty enforcement wasn't causing confusion with my kids.
If the child with the knife was threatening other children, that is a much different situation, and I would want to talk to the school administration at greater length about bus monitors, anti-bullying strategies, and so on.
I would follow up to clarify about the discussing with parent. I suspect it's more related to kids gossiping and turning this into a big drama, rather than being able to discuss with their own parents.
I like the points above about reinforcing children how to deal with these situations - yes, it can happen, no you should not panic, yes, remove yourself from situation if you can, which might mean going to another seat on the bus and yes, tell an adult. Then go on being a kid.
Did your son say why he was afraid? Did the other student threaten him?
Unless your son with threatened, I'd downplay concerns about retaliation - he did the right thing and should it happen again, he should calmly do the right thing again - stay calm, distance himself from situation as best as he can, tell an adult and continue with enjoying being a kid.
Hopefully within a week, this will be another school memory.
Thanks everyone for your feedback. Luckily, this whole thing has blown over as far as I can tell. My son is on Spring Break so he is busy thinking about other things. He was never threatened and has no reason to be alarmed. His imagination sometimes gets the best of him. My son is afraid of knives in general after seeing my dad having to go to the ER for a bad knife accident in the kitchen.
I did have to call the principal to get information on what was going on. They did not contact me and that was very disappointing considering how many times I tried to get in touch with them. You'd think there would be more communication. They did tell me that the boy did bring it for showing off and there was no malice in it. I had thought so and wasn't too worried about it.
I am definitely ready to put this behind us but at the least I am happy to know my son is being responsible and we are prepared for anything that might arise.