Ana is a single mama to an 8-yr-old son, Javier, who loves to wear costumes 365 days per year. When not exploring her beloved Sunshine State with her family, she's planning date nights with her single dad beau, Mark. The former content director for parenting.com, Ana is now the VP of Content for Today's Mama. She has interviewed a wide range of mamas, from First Lady Michelle Obama to the Kardashians and everything in between.

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Accusing a 6-yr-old of sexual harassment is ridiculous

I have a gregarious 8-year-old son who wants nothing more than to be everyone’s friend, host play dates and just have everybody get along. He’s always giggling, joking and trying to get the party started. Most other kids love him. Who wouldn’t want to be buds with the life of the party? They accept his invitations and laugh at his jokes, which makes Javier beam with pride. He sometimes becomes so over-the-top happy when he’s playing with friends that he impulsively bear hugs them or plants a kiss on their cheeks. What can I say? My son is a lover.

Accusing a 6-year-old of sexual harassment is ridiculous www.TodaysMama.com

My son and his lunch buddy, John, are bear-hugging buds.

Not all kids are comfortable with all that touching, and over the years I’ve explained that to Jav. The older he gets, the less the impulses take over. But for a while when he was about 5 and 6, they were a regular occurrence. They’re probably fading for many reasons, not the least of which is that he’s just plain growing up, maturing and learning how to control his feelings while having respect for other people’s space.

So when I read about the 6-year-old boy who was suspended and accused of sexual harassment for kissing a female classmate on the hand, it stirred something. My son kisses my hand all the time. It’s one of the gestures I cherish most because it feels so chivalrous, something we don’t see much anymore. First-grader Hunter Yelton was sitting in his class reading circle, grabbed the hand of the girl next to him, and planted a wet one. I think it’s a bit much to suspend him, but that doesn’t bother me as much as accusing him of sexual harassment. According to the school district’s exaggerated definition, school harassment is defined by unwanted touching.

If that is true, then I was just sexually harassed while in line at the grocery store when the gentleman behind me kept bumping into me. I found it annoying, it was unwanted, so surely that constitutes sexual harassment, right?

Accusing a 6-year-old of sexual harassment is ridiculous www.TodaysMama.com

My son’s buddy Dallas moved away, so there’s a lot of hugging that goes on when they reunite.

Wrong. I’m an adult, I know better, and sometimes those checkout tabloids suck you in so hard you don’t realize you keep bumping into the person in front of you. The school should know better, too. Hunter Yelton is six, and presumably, his beloved is right around that age, too. Some kids at that stage say they’re boyfriend and girlfriend without any idea of what they’re talking about. Other kids are simply sensory creatures who, like my Javier, strive to spread love and friendship wherever they go.

By taking it so far as to call this sexual harassment, the school has introduced a very heavy term to a group of first graders who are far from ready to understand what that means. “What is sex?” Hunter asked his mom immediately after getting in trouble. I’m willing to bet she didn’t have an answer ready, and neither will the parents of his classmates when they come home and tell mom and dad that Hunter was suspended for sexual harassment. I think that’s a much bigger problem than reminding a 6-year-old that he needs to keep his hands to himself.

Kids try things out to see how far they can go. If Hunter or any other child repeatedly touches the hands or face of another who has clearly made it known they do not like it, then by all means, call his parents, revoke recess privileges, suspend him if you have to, but don’t call it sexual harassment. If no private parts are involved, the word sex shouldn’t even enter the conversation. If I had a daughter and a kid was driving her bonkers kissing her hand, or even touching her hair, I’d say something to the teacher, then the other mom if I had to, but I wouldn’t accuse her suitor of sexual harassment.

My son may be a touchy feely kid, but he’s never been in trouble for making anyone uncomfortable (whew!). If he did, I’d be the first to scold him appropriately, but I would never tell him he’s sexually harassing anyone. That’s just bad parenting.

What do you think? Did the school go too far calling it sexual harassment?

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Comments (4)

  1. anon 12/15/2013 at 1:41 am

    That little girl`s teachers are doing no favours encouraging her to believe she is an abuse victim. She is innocent now but when she older she could be the sort who puts innocent men in jail if she continues to be coddled like this. I know a girl who was touched on the vagina as a teenager and who felt violated over it. Her parents told her “shut up whinging that isn’t real abuse. Its not rape”. Well what happened to this six year old is even more trivial than that in my opinion. What an overreaction on part of the school. Poor kids.

  2. Amanda G 12/11/2013 at 10:20 pm

    I agree that a simple kiss on the hand even if unwanted is NOT sexual harassment, however, we don’t know the history between these two children. Perhaps this little girl has been bugged by this little boy in the past and has asked him to stop and told teachers and this was just one step too far. When I was in Kindergarten I went to a private school that we had to wear pleated skirts as a uniform (think kilt but for girls) we were only allowed to wear shorts under these skirts on gym class days. I remember one little boy who repeatedly would get down on the ground under the tables and crawl around looking up little girls skirts. I wish that there had been more of a reaction made when I told my teacher about that because even though it made me and other girls in the class extremely uncomfortable and I will even go so far as to say unsafe in class, it was not dealt with. This little boy was never punished for his actions or even really reprimanded, it was more of a “boys will be boys” attitude. what are we teaching our little girls if we don’t stand up for their right to feel comfortable and not molested at school. Yes “unwanted touching” may draw the line to far to one side but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that NO 6 year old boy is capable of sexual harassment.

    • anon 12/15/2013 at 1:45 am

      I think what you describe is very different as it involves body parts below the waist and the boys were getting a kick out of upsetting the girls. In this case the boy might have been annoying the girl and he was right to be reprimanded but calling it sexual harassment is a step too far. And a slap in the face to victims of rape or attempted rape. Attention needs focusing on them not these two kids

  3. MeLissa 12/11/2013 at 6:23 pm

    The school went WAY too far!!! Whatever happened to teachers managing their classrooms??? Why is every single minor offense taken to the principal or district office??? The teacher should have said “We don’t do that because it’s inappropriate.” And that should have been the end of it. I’m getting worn out with teachers not having the common sense to manage their classrooms effectively and for the well-being of the children placed in their care. This was not done in good judgement.