Almost every day there is another report of a child being punished for his imagination; their pastries and fingers being mistaken for deadly weapons and so forth. Children being hauled off by authorities and treated like criminals for innocent play has become the norm. We must ask ourselves… “Where have the carefreeness and the freedoms of childhood gone to?” Who decided that a child can no longer play cops and robbers, Indians and cowboys, star wars, or even Robinhood of Nottingham? Are children today only permitted to play such games on a screen with a controller?

My children played Starwars, acting out their galactical battles in real life. When I was a child my brothers and I played cops and robbers, and cowboys and Indians with our cap guns. We also played war. My parent’s generation played the same themes. The generation before that did so as well. Even if one was to go back more generations there would still be found children who picked up a stick or used their fingers as a gun in playing war games. The flintlock musket was invented in the 17th century. This site on inventions gives a history of the invention of the gun. Prior to the gun the children, mostly boys, played with wooden swords. Many a child thru the years have pretended to shoot their best friend who in turn pretended to die of a gunshot wound, only to miraculously come back from the grave to retaliate against their pretend enemy. Many a young boy has turned his pointer finger into an imaginary weapon. Are we to remove all pointer fingers from off of the hands of our children?

Is it wrong to have imagination? Some of the best books for children are full of imaginary stories of villains and hero’s, of battles and conquest. For instance Katherine Paterson wrote the novel “Bridge to Teribithia” around the theme of imagination. The famous C. S. Lewis wrote “The Chronicles of Narnia” which is explicit with imaginary foes. These books and many others have been given awards for their great richness in imagination. Should society make our children illiterate because society fears a child’s use of imagery?

The schools are given the task of teaching our children to be literate and full of knowledge. Though the school personnel and school boards are the ones given the responsibility of seeing to the education of our children, they are also the ones who have allowed their fear to chase away the greatest gift a child has… that of his own free will to think and to imagine and to play. Carolyn R. Scheidies wrote an article titled “Zero Tolerance Policies in Schools Leave Common Sense Behind” in 2007. You can read it here on Yahoo. She makes some good points. Her reasoning applies to more than just to school. It applies to all of society. Perhaps we adults need to use some common sense and allow children to be children. Yes some bad things have happened and unfortunately some bad things will happen again. However if we base our judgment on fear then fear will rule us. We must let it go… let the children be children. Let the children play!

Here is the definition of the word “spoliation” just in case you the reader are unfamiliar with the word; it fits very well to what is happening to the freedom of our innocent children.

spo·li·a·tion [spoh-lee-ey-shuhn] noun
1. The act or an instance of plundering or despoiling.
2. Authorized plundering of neutrals at sea in time of war.
3. Law. The destruction or material alteration of a bill of exchange, will, or the like.
4. The act of spoiling or damaging something.