William Paca Elementary School in Hyattsville, Maryland, placed a ban on personal pencil sharpeners recently after several young students allegedly cut their wrists with the blades contained inside their small plastic housing. A concerned parent came forward March 29th, causing the school to launch an investigation into the matter, according to WTTG-TV. The school announced the ban on the use and possession of the pencil sharpeners later that same day, though the school’s nurse met with each of the seven kids and determined that none of them needed to be sent to the hospital. Counselors came to the school and spoke with the students, and officials notified the families of each of the students involved in the alleged incidents by the following week.
It is obvious that something must be done to stop these mass assaults, even if self-inflicted. We must take aggressive action now to stop the carnage wreaked by school and office supplies. No one in any place of learning, office, or other workspace should ever have to worry about the danger posed by these weapons in disguise. Today it’s portable pencil sharpeners, tomorrow it might be staplers. In the past, rulers were sometimes used to discipline unruly students, actions that would now be considered assault and battery. Nuns occasionally whacked a disruptive student on the rump in days of yore. Today we know this is sexual harassment, #MeToo, #bantheruler.
How long will it be until a carelessly flung rubber band strikes someone in the eye? How long until someone stabs another—or themselves—with a Bic pen? No one should be allowed to flick—or fling-- their Bic! We are well aware of the inherent dangers of lead pencils and have taken admirable steps to keep them out of the public’s hands, however it’s not just toxicity that’s the problem… there’s also the risk that someone could be stabbed or have their eye(s) put out. Scissors are an obvious threat. The sale and manufacture of regular scissors should be prohibited, and ones with rounded tips should be subject to a five-day waiting period. Hole-punchers could be used as a low-cost (but completely unsafe) alternative to pierce one’s ears, and should, at the very least, be heavily regulated. Elmer’s glue or other forms of paste could be sniffed or cause one’s fingers to stick together, either of which is unacceptable.
Compasses, those fiendishly sharp instruments used to inscribe circles and arcs and measure distances on maps, have blessedly fallen into disfavor with the advent of computer technology. However, it is still possible to obtain them. A law must be passed mandating the immediate seizure and destruction of all of these “tools” currently extant. And this is just scratching the surface of the steps that need to be taken.
We have made strides. We have banned the Ten Commandments from public spaces, prayer in public schools and outmoded concepts such as “mom” and “dad” and “boy” and “girl.” We have put “not for human consumption” (don’t eat) warning labels on everything from posters, desks and lockers to tape dispensers, calculators, and keyboards. We are gradually reducing risks to the wellbeing of students and workers.
If we take these additional common-sense measures, our students will remain mentally unscarred and physically unscathed, free to go home to a parental unit or guardian and watch rap videos and play “Grand Theft Auto V.”