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Thursday, 6 April, 2000, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
Pupils suspended over cops game
Playground
Fingers shaped like a gun were seen as a threat
A zero-tolerance policy on playground violence has seen a school in the United States suspend four infants for playing cops and robbers.

The children in the kindergarten class at Wilson School, Sayreville, New Jersey, were given three-day suspensions for making pretend guns with their fingers - which were interpreted as unacceptable threats.

The children's plans to "shoot" each other in the game were reported to teachers by other pupils at the school.

The school's head teacher, following the local authority's zero tolerance guidelines, suspended the pupils involved.

"This is a no tolerance policy. We're very firm on weapons and threats. Given the climate of our society, we cannot take any of these statements in a light manner," said school district superintendent William L Bauer.

Metal detectors

But parents were reported to have questioned such a rigid stance and whether the rules should be applied to such young children.

"It was at a time when these kids were supposed to be playing. They don't even understand what happened," said a father of a pupil at the school.

In the wake of a series of school shootings in the United State and widespread efforts to reduce a culture of violence, many schools have introduced policies intended to stop aggression.

As well as zero-tolerance policies, there have been large-scale anti-violence programmes in cities including New York teaching skills such as conflict resolution and anger management.

In Illinois, schools have attempted psychological profiling of pupils, in an attempt to identify individuals who might have a propensity to violence.

There have been more direct preventative measures taken elsewhere, such as the Chicago public school service ensuring that all schools have metal detectors.

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