Going too far? Ore. school disciplines kids for imaginary sword fight

HILLSBORO, Ore. - Two 7-year-old boys got in trouble at school after using imaginary weapons at recess. Now the family of one of the boys disciplined said the whole thing was blown out of proportion.

The kids were copying a computer game where players fight off zombies.

They used "air" swords and axes to pretend to stab each other, but they didn't have anything in their hands - not even a stick. Still, the Hillsboro School District said it was inappropriate.

But Ronald Doney, the grandfather of one of the boys, said he doesn't get it.

"Society is getting out of hand. They aren't letting kids use their imagination," he said.

Doney's grandson, Kaden, was sent to the principal's office at Butternut Creek Elementary School for pretending to fight with a friend. They were emulating the video game Minecraft.

The game is about building structures and protecting them from monsters, but the Hillsboro School District doesn't allow that type of play - not even at recess.

"Students have been asked not to do that," said spokeswoman Beth Graser. "These students in particular have been spoken to on multiple occasions about this specific type of behavior."

Graser said with only a couple of supervisors and dozens of students, it's tough to tell what's real and fake.

"In some ways I do (see the district's perspective)," Doney said. "But there's a point where kids don't play anymore. It's kinda sad - seven year olds, they just want to play."

"You are definitely going to have kids with their imaginations and wanting to replicate things they've seen," Graser said. "That's perfectly natural, and I think just trying to give consistent reinforcement as to what the expectations are and what some better ideas may be."

She feels the punishment fits.

"The consequence is a loss of a 15-minute recess. That's probably pretty appropriate," she said.

Doney disagrees. He feels it's confusing for the kids to play one way at home and another at school.

"They've carried it too far," he said. "I could understand if there were sticks involved or something like that."

The district's handbook doesn't have an explicit policy about imaginary fighting. It only talks about weapons. But Graser feels the district is consistent and clear on the issue.