My Son "Swore" at School: What Makes a Word a Swear Word?


Since Friday this has been weighing on my mind and I’ve tried to keep my fingers at bay. On Friday a friend of mine told me, “Whatever you do don’t tweet or Facebook about it,” as in the past sometimes my tweets have gotten me into trouble.

But I can’t hold back anymore.

On Friday, I received a voicemail and an email that H ”was drawing a red thing with horns and then was telling another student that it was hell.”

He was sent to the planning room at school and because the planning room para wasn’t available, he had to meet with the dean of students about saying “hell.” He had to fill out a planning sheet which included what his poor choice was {saying hell} and how it made others feel {sad, bad} and what he will do in the future {not say hell}.

He came home from school and did the walk of shame from the bus to the house, offering to throw his backpack in the trunk of the car before our road trip to Green Bay and proceeded to cry about how he got in trouble at school for saying the h-word, only he thought the h-word was “hate” but it’s really “hell.” His story differs a little but he admits he did say hell, but again not in a derogatory way, just as matter of fact. Oh, he also tried to crumple and hide the planning sheet from school for fear we would be upset with him.

Thankfully an out-of-town weekend put Friday’s mishap far from our minds, but then this morning we noticed that an incident was added to H’s online school record.



My never-been-in-trouble at school first grader now has that on his school record.

In talking with school officials, hell is a swear word and any swear word that is heard is handled the same way {being sent to the planning room and filling out a planning sheet}. Also, I’m being told he’s not in trouble but that this was just a way to for his behavior to be corrected and so that he knows what to do in the future. {Not say hell is the correct answer.} My first grader definitely thought going to the office was “in trouble.”

What do you think? I want to hear from parents, teachers, school officials. I also think this entire situation begs the question, what makes a swear word, a swear word? For instance, sucks and fricken are considered swear words but what if I were to say “Jenny sucks from a straw?”

Finally, where does one draw the line between advocating for their child in a situation like this that might not feel fair and just letting it go to keep the peace?


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