December 11, 2006
Kids and sex part one: a four-year-old in Texas
Before I get into this, I’d like to mention that I’m absolutely in favor of women standing up for themselves when they’ve been sexually harassed, and I feel that children should be held accountable for their actions (meaning they should be disciplined, reasonably).
That disclaimer aside, I’m a rational person, and I understand that both claims of sexual harassment and disciplinary action can be taken too far. Here‘s a case in point:
BELLMEAD [TX] — A four-year-old hugged his teachers aide and was put into in-school suspension, according to the father. But La Vega school administrators have a different story.Damarcus Blackwell’s four-year-old son was lining-up to get on the bus after school last month, when he was accused of rubbing his face in the chest of a female employee.
The prinicipal of La Vega Primary School sent a letter to the Blackwells that said the pre-kindergartener demonstrated “inappropriate physical behavior interpreted as sexual contact and/or sexual harassment.”
Blackwell says it’s ridiculous that the aide would misread a hug from a four-year-old. Blackwell wrote to administrators demanding that the whole incident be expunged from his son’s academic file because his son is too young to know what it means to act sexually. …
Blackwell got a response from the La Vega administration. The sexual references on the discipline referral were removed. But the thing that makes Blackwell most upset is they told him “your request for an apology by the aide and removal of all paperwork regarding this incident is denied.” Now the young student’s file will refer to the incident as “inappropriate physical contact.” And Blackwell says he will continue to fight the district.
I’m absolutely willing to believe that the child rubbed his face in the female employee’s chest. I’ve had young children do that or similar things to me before. I’ve babysat older children who were overtly fascinated by the fact that I was on the opposite side of the puberty line from them. I don’t have children, and I’m by no means an expert in early childhood education, but it seems to me that a more appropriate response would have been to tell the child that he shouldn’t do that, and why, or else talk to his parents. Putting him in in-school suspension (which seems to me to be unnecessary in general when it comes to pre-K students… but maybe I’m being naive) and putting a note in his file (makes me think of Violent Femmes: “I hope you know that this will go down on your permanent record…”) strikes me as complete overkill. Somehow I suspect there might be better things for the school to be concerned about… but maybe that’s just me.