Teacher Gives New Meaning to "Five Second Rule"

Filed under: Opinions

trash canIf you are a parent, then you are probably familiar with the "five second rule." This rule applies to edible items dropped on the floor: If the food has been on the ground for less than five seconds, the rule says it may be picked up and eaten as if nothing ever happened. Sort of like a germ grace period where if you can get to it before the dog does, it's all good. This rule was invented (by a mother, no doubt) to prevent the wasting of all the little tidbits that children are prone to let slip through their fingers.

It's a great rule, one that prevents wasted food. But there are times when the "five second rule" does not apply. For example, when the food falls into the dog's bowl, anywhere in the bathroom or in a trash can, you just let it go. And it's a violation of that last exception to the rule that has landed a kindergarten teacher in Bridgeport, Connecticut in trouble.

After witnessing a student at Park City Magnet School toss his cafeteria lunch -- chicken nuggets and a banana -- into the trash uneaten, sixty-seven-year-old Anne O'Donnell went and dug it out. She then forced the boy to eat the former trash in front of her. In addition to completely humiliating the child, police say the teacher's actions were illegal and charged her with risk of injury to a minor. She was arrested and released on a promise to appear in court.

Other than the possibility of debilitating embarrassment, I don't see how the teacher put the child at risk of injury by forcing him to eat nuggets and a banana from the trash. Of course, we don't know what else was in that trash can, but it doesn't really matter. What she did was clearly wrong. Everybody knows that you don't eat out of the trash. As Jerry Seinfeld pointed out to his buddy George, even if it is sitting on a doily on top of a magazine, if it is in the receptacle, adjacent to refuse, it is trash and not to be eaten.

While I do think this teacher should be punished, the charge seems a little extreme. What do you think? Did she really risk injury to this child? What would be an appropriate punishment for forcing a kid to eat from the trash?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.