"Overreaction" may not be a strong enough word if what is reported by a family attorney is true about Mount Carmel Area School District.

Attorney Robin Ficker said district personnel questioned a 5-year-old for three hours - prior to notifying her parents - after she made comments about using her Hello Kitty Bubbles Gun to shoot a friend and herself.

School officials can't be too careful nowadays with matters of student safety, so to react to a report of the girl's conversation is prudent. Keep in mind, too, MCA's recent history with bomb threats and the disruption and uneasy feelings they created. But to question the girl without first involving her parents, and then suspend her, is ridiculous.

The district won't say anything more, and so the public is left with a one-sided account. But considering what we know, the administration should apologize, expunge the young girl's record and hope the district doesn't get sued.

Let it be a lesson, as well, for school personnel and the rest of us still on eggshells over Sandy Hook: keeping children safe is important, but respecting children's rights is important, too.