BRIGHTON, CO (KUSA) - A mother's concerns may spark a debate over a middle school assignment that portrays murder as a game.
Sarah Timme is upset that her 8th grader had to read a short story about a man who hunts humans for sport.
She sent a newstip to 9NEWS, saying in light of the Jessica Ridgeway tragedy, this is the wrong lesson to teach kids.
"The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell is a short story that has been used in classrooms for years to illustrate literary concepts.
Lesson plans can be downloaded online for the 1924 story, which was also made into a movie.
Timme says it's time to take a serious look at whether the story belongs in the classroom.
Reviewing homework is a regular ritual in the Timme household but a recent eighth grade assignment caught the mother of two middle school students off guard.
Her eighth grader attends Bromley East Charter School in Brighton and he had to answer questions about "The Most Dangerous Game."
"I was totally outraged and appalled. They were talking about murder as a game," Timme said.
The main character is a serial killer.
"He hunts and kills men for pleasure," Timme said.
Timme says the assignment was disturbing for her, and her son.
"It had made him uncomfortable to read it and to think about killing someone else," Timme said.
She calls the lesson inappropriate, especially considering recent events.
"Jessica Ridgeway, unfortunately. Children younger and younger are killing other children," Timme said.
Another story about murder for sport, "The Hunger Games," is hugely popular among high school students.
Timme says a Brighton 27J school district administrator listened politely, but dismissed her concerns.
"I would like to have the story removed completely," Timme said.
27J spokesman Kevin Denke sent 9NEWS a statement which reads in part:
"The Most Dangerous Game," is not part of the purchased middle school language arts curriculum for 27J's district-managed middle schools at this time. Bromley East, as a district charter school, has the ability to implement a curriculum separate from the standardized curriculum used by our district-managed schools. Bromley East did have a teacher use "The Most Dangerous Game" as part of a class assignment. The school does now plan to re-evaluate the use of this short story in the classroom setting."
Denke went on to say:
"A typical middle or high school reader will wrestle with many literary elements, plot structures, irony, and various author's points of view. There is a strong probability that many of these literary works will touch on controversial, questionable, and real life problems. We are sensitive to the fact that any story has the ability to impact students or be interpreted in different ways, especially in the context of an immense tragedy, such as the Jessica Ridgeway case. While School District 27J is in no way trying to promote any controversial topic that may be lifted out of middle/high school level texts, it is our expectation that when students and teachers come across potentially controversial texts, the ensuing conversations can be framed within the safety of the classroom and nurtured as part of the learning."
Timme says lessons like "The Most Dangerous Game" only encourage school violence.
"It's extremely frustrating," Timme said. "If we're teaching that concept, why do we expect something different?"
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)