I was planning on writing about this particular topic last week however I put it off a few times as I wanted to gather some more information before writing it out. I think I’m ready now, or at least I’ve delayed long enough.
The first story that I remember really bringing this topic into the forefront of my consciousness was in December of 2006, December 8th to be exact. The story happened in Hagerstown, Maryland. A 5 year old Kindergartener was suspended from school. He was suspended on the grounds that committed sexual harassment against a fellow classmate at Lincolnshire Elementary. The nature of his crime, in case you were wondering, was that he pinched a female classmate on the buttocks. School officials said “fits the state Department of Education's definition of sexual harassment as "unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors and/or other inappropriate verbal, written or physical conduct of a sexual nature directed toward others."” The boy’s father was outraged at the school saying that his son was unaware of the seriousness of this allegation and only knew it as playing around.
Surely this was an isolated incident, right? A momentary lapse of judgment on the part of the administration? No, sadly, it wasn’t. Las Vegas, Texas. Four days later… December 12, 2006. A 4 year old boy attending La Vega Primary School was sentenced into in-house suspension. This student is a pre-kindergarten student. What did he do to earn himself in-house suspension? According to the school, he committed sexual harassment. Allegedly he inappropriately rubbed his face into the bosom of a teacher’s aide.
Two years later another incident; 2008, Greer, Greenville County, South Carolina. A six year old child was sent home with allegations of sexual harassment because he told his teacher that one of his follow students liked looking at her behind. Mind you, the student who’s being accused of this wasn’t looking, he was ratting out the looker. Maybe the boy’s classmate had good taste, maybe the teacher sat on some tape, or had a hole in her pants, or maybe the informant was mistaken about what he thought was happening. Whatever the story was, the boy was suspended for sexual harassment because he insinuated that a classmate would look at their teacher like that.
At least there are few champions of reason and logic. David Davis was the executive director of an Advocacy Center in Waco in 2006. He thinks that it’s absurd to charge children this small with sexual harassment allegations. He says assuming the boy has not had sexual encounters, or been inappropriately exposed to pornography, most four-year-olds are sexually innocent.
Another book, Promoting Social Justice for Young Children also heralds logic and reason as key elements when dealing with children and charging them with crimes of a sexual nature.