Pennsylvania kindergartener uses Hello Kitty bubble-gun at school, suspended for "terrorist threat"

Mount Carmel Area Elementary School in Pennsylvania suspended a five-year-old girl for pointing a Hello Kitty bubble-gun at another student, characterizing this as a "terrorist threat." The little girl had to undergo psychiatric evaluation before she was allowed back in. Her parents say that they couldn't get their daughter into another school, because no one wanted a kid with "terrorist" on her transcript. They're considering a lawsuit.

The school claims "the information supplied to the media may not be consistent with the facts" but declines to correct the record. They do, however, offer this empty, mealy-mouthed rubbish: "The Mount Carmel Area School District takes the well-being and safety of students and staff very seriously."

The kindergartner, who attends Mount Carmel Area Elementary School in Pennsylvania, caught administrators’ attention after suggesting she and a classmate should shoot each other with bubbles.

“I think people know how harmless a bubble is. It doesn’t hurt,” said Robin Ficker, an attorney for the girl’s family. According to Ficker, the girl, whose identity has not been released, didn’t even have the bubble gun toy with her at school.

Kindergartner Suspended Over Bubble Gun Threat (via Reddit)



  1. Zero tolerance policies are misleading.  What they really are is zero thought policies, you can not think about a situation because we might get sued or something bad might happen.
    The other girl might have gotten soap in her eye, been allergic to that soap, been blinded permanently and WE MIGHT BE AT FAULT!
    Thank the FSM the dispenser of the death bubbles was gun shaped so we can just file this under ZOMG GUNS and solve the problem

    1. Exactly, TAC. These things are put in place as a way for administrators to demonstrate that they are “doing something,” even if, as time eventually shows, it’s something stupid.

      1. That is what happens when you make knee jerk reactions to situations.  Ex. TSA
        There should be a law that you can not make a law to ‘fix’ something until its been discussed for 6 months. 
        That way the new season of some reality show will start and people will have moved on from the topic.  Then the cooler heads can prevail and make the needed changes without having to go overboard to meet unrealistic demands.

        1. I get your point…but I’d really rather not have to wait 6 months to get, for instance, Zoe Lofgren’s “Aaron’s Law” (modification to the CFAA) passed. We need better people making good rules more than we need better rules to compensate for a lack of good people.

          1. In the 6 month window there is NOTHING stopping Zoe Logren from demanding DOJ provide updates of how they are using the law.  When someone is watching the bad people tend to behave.
            I am not saying Aaron’s Law is bad, I think we need to fix the problems it is having… but I’d also like to see what other problems could be found in it that didn’t get the same attention.
            For every Aaron, how many other people got screwed over from the “creative” reading of the law.  How many of them are sitting with felonies or jail time on their record for making up a fake name on a site…
            Aaron’s Law is needed, I’d like to make sure it goes far enough the first time.

          2. I’d be happy if we followed a software update model — the current CFAA social firmware has a glaring security bug, and should be patched as soon as possible. Then that bug can be added to the list of issues that are being closely studied for the next major point-release. (And yeah, one danger of that model is that the folks who build the patches will do as great a job as Oracle <g> Guess that’s why social firmware should be Open Source.)

    2. per usual, when we see people who ought to be rational acting in a way that seems irrational, we have to ask, “who benefits?”

      In this case, the administrator(s) wants to have zero risk in any situation that could cause him to loose his job.  He probably has many years in the system, is well-salaried, well-benefited, and has a pension coming fairly soon.

      Being fired by a jumpy school board over some kid he doesn’t know with a Hello Kitty toy?  No way, screw her, there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

      There are multiple perverse incentives in this sort of system, but given those incentives, it’s not surprising behavior.

  2. The Mount Carmel Area School District takes the well-being and safety of students and staff very seriously.

    For certain private definitions of “seriously”, “safety”, and “well being”, this may be true.

    But most adults would argue that a serious consideration of anything requires thought, introspection, and willingness to differentiate the idealized forms and constructs of the imaginary legal world, with the more complex, more fragile, and more valuable mundanities of the real world.

    1. Except, obviously, for the safety and well-being of students with bubbles.  Those students can just go to jail where they belong.

    2. I wonder if they include the psychological in their definition of student safety. Because I can’t imagine that terrorizing a little girl for doing a normal thing that kids do falls under the heading of protecting her.

      1. A five year old using ‘myself’ correctly?

        There’s still hope for the English language after all.

  3. This is plain and simple paranoia are the teachers too stupid to follow up on suspicion before ruining a child personal record with the word terrorist? Psych evals for the teachers and management of that school seems in order. I guess common sense left American government for good.

  4. Or nerf guns some of them have huge capacities and fire full auto so they will be illegal soon too. What do we expect the mass shooting incident is all we talk about lately some small child was bound to repeat the words adults so carelessly toss around when talking about the news.

    1. Punctuation is your friend. Use it, and readers will be able to understand what you are trying to say.

  5. We should elect committees of extremely reasonable people who can go around vetoing ridiculous crap like this. Wise wandering trickster monks…

  6. What happen to using our brains? What happen to rational thought, and discourse?  What happen to being able to be a 5 yr old child and having fun? I can’t imagine living in a world where I could be suspended for even “talking” about a bubble gun! She didn’t even have it with her and they suspended her. What happen to Free speech? Hmm? I would sue period.

    Oki fully flabbergasted and abashed here. Wow.

    1. Five-year-olds have never had free speech. Their lives are run by a bunch of bureaucratic hacks and worrywarts on every level. Which is a damn good thing too, otherwise how would they learn never to trust authority?

      1. “….bureaucratic hacks and worrywarts…”In other words ‘parents’. If they’re lucky.

    2. As much as making her a terrorist for using a bubble gun in totally insane, I fail to see how this was a free speech issue. Unless I missed what law the government had put in place to restrict her rights to free speech.

  7. “The Mount Carmel Area School District takes the well-being and safety of students and staff very seriously.”

    “The Mount Carmel Area School District is run by a bunch of morons who use the word terrorist at the drop of the hat and are unqualified to be teaching children to understand the world.  We apologize that the law requires you to put your children into the hands of people possessed by paranoia and delusions of danger.”


  8. I really really really really really want to meet the half witts who banned the girl from school and blow bubbles in their general direction.

  9. I used to date a girl from the Mount Carmel area back when I was in college, and I’m not surprised by this behavior from their schools.  This part of PA is about as rural as it gets, being located right in the middle of the coal-belt, and, well, they’re sticklers for the rules as written.

  10. “for pointing a Hello Kitty bubble-gun at another student”

    Actually, according the linked news report, she didn’t even have the bubble gun with her–one other report I read said that she didn’t even own one. She was just saying that if she did, they could play with it.

  11. “The Mount Carmel Area School District takes the well-being and safety of students and staff very seriously.” Actually, what the Mount Carmel Area School District did was exactly the opposite of taking safety seriously.

  12. i went to this school   and that place is terrible this isnt the first time they took things way out of hand when dealing with a small matter

    she didnt have the toy at school they two children were at the bus stop playing around before school they also fail to mention that the school also interogated the little girl for three hours with out the parents knowlage or permission  i hope they sue and have the entire staff evaluated for common sence  but acourse they would all fail

  13. “Aw, shoot, that sucks!”, said a bystander, who was immediately expulsed and charged with terrorism.

  14. “the information supplied to the media may not be consistent with the facts”

    Y’know, they may just have a point there.

    “So correct the record and get it over with!” you may respond.  Well, if they were concerned about what might be done with a bubble gun, might one expect them to be concerned about making a statement that could well bring more furious national attention down on their heads if they get it wrong?

    1. And here I bet he was hoping the internet would forget him violating the law and then crying about it.

  15. The district did say there may be missing information. So maybe the little girl said something like, “This is only a bubble gun but my daddy has a real one and if  you don’t let me in the sandbox I’ll use it to murder your family while you sleep”

  16. Zero tolerance = never having to use your brain. You just react to a situation with out any context or thinking it through. How absurd.

  17. Wow, could this be any more Orwellian?

    The irony is fucking vast.

    Terrorism by crying terrorism. Surely, sooner or later, this bullshit has to become a matter of crying wolf?


    1. People stand in lines to get on flying metal tubes and have their privates fondled over cries of terrorism…
      This is not a nightmare… this is our reality.

      Sadly things will not change until you can convince the masses there isn’t actually a lone wolf terrorist hiding under their bed that they alone could stop if only the secret muslim leader of the country wasn’t trying to steal their guns.

  18. The problem is these ridiculous 250mL fluid tanks.  They should only be available to kids playing soldier.  Playing hunter or defending the home from  closet-monsters can be done perfectly well with 20mL per fill.

  19. Welp, at least she can get her youthful idealism about the fairness of the justice system out of her head early and skip straight to teenage cynicism. 

  20. As an educator, I’d expect the school administrator would at least have a working understanding of the word ‘terrorism’.

  21. This is the most rediulious thing I ‘ve ever heard of.  In the first place , the child didn’t even have the TOY with her.  Now are parents suppose to lock their children away for being children and only give the little cuddly TOYS. 2sd, Children at this age don’t even have a clue what is going on in the world, let alone their neighborhood.
    Now if you want to stop child violence get rid of the violent games they can get to on the internet and at arcaids. Start monoriting their scocail net working. limit computer time.
    If this was my child I’d also be suing someone.

    1. What was the TSA doing at your school? And does your mommy know that you’re on Boing Boing?

  22. Every time I read a story like this I picture Bin Laden sitting on the ocean floor laughing and laughing and laughing.  

    He terrorized us once.  His real accomplishment is getting us to terrorize ourselves every day.

    He may be dead but he definitely won. 

  23. Did the gun fire one bubble for each trigger-pull, or was it a fully-automatic weapon, capable of firing a stream of multiple bubbles as long as the trigger is held?

  24. I’d argue that there are more bubble, paint, air, water, frosting, condiment, and other assorted fun-to-point guns than the bullet-filled kind. 

    Maybe we should teach kids more about how to have fun instead of making everything a point of fear or some kind of forbidden fruit.

    I know not with what weapons WWIII will be fought with, but WWIV will be fought with bubbles.

  25. Moderator note: This post is not an invitation to a debate about guns and gun control.  Thank you for playing.

  26. I think that at this point writing the word “gun” is such an invitation. It’s hardly unexpected.

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