6 year old suspended for kissing?

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AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
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6 year old suspended for kissing?

Colorado 6 Year Old Suspended for Kissing a Girl - ABC News

Right or wrong call? If wrong, what would have been a better solution?

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

Absolutely right. This kid has done this multiple times, been counseled and disciplined in different ways in the past about this behavior, and even been suspended for it before! I'm sorry but even a six-year-old should be able to understand the concept of personal space and that some behaviors are not appropriate at school. If he can't understand that, or if he can't control his behavior for some reason, then he shouldn't be allowed in a classroom with that little girl. I have a feeling the second suspension is probably required before the school can legally recommend transferring him to a different school or to a counseling program.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4114

I think it is a bit much. He kissed her on the hand. Especially to start calling it sexual harassment. 6 year olds don't always understand the concept of personal space. I don't think a 6 year old that kissed a girl on the hand needs counseling.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

Other articles say he kissed her on the cheek, and that he's kissed her on the cheek two times before this; once he was talked to and another time he was sent home. Obviously this kid is not learning the lesson and he's been given a couple of chances at it. I feel bad for that little girl. I'm picturing her just trying to listen at reading group with this kid who thinks he's her boyfriend pecking at her cheek every chance he can get. That should be a high school problem, LOL, not a kindergarten problem.

Regardless, the school has a stated policy against sexual harassment and this fits, especially if he kissed her on the cheek. Sexual harassment is defined as unsolicited verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature, and sexual is defined as relating to the instincts, physiological processes, and activities connected with physical attraction or intimate physical contact between individuals.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

The boy's mother said officials at Lincoln School of Science and Technology in Canon City, a southern Colorado city of 16,000, are over-reacting. Jennifer Saunders said her son was suspended once before for kissing the girl and had other disciplinary problems, and she was surprised to find out that he would be forced out of school again for several days.

Did I read that right? He has been suspended once before for kissing this girl and has other disciplinary problems?

Yes, he deserved to be suspended again. This isn't about him kissing her per se; it's about unwanted touching. The girl shouldn't be put in a position where she feels uncomfortable around this boy and that there are no consequences for his actions.

Is it that hard to predict where this boy will be in 10 years if his mother continues to give him a pass for his actions now?

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

I think it is a bit much. He kissed her on the hand. Especially to start calling it sexual harassment. 6 year olds don't always understand the concept of personal space. I don't think a 6 year old that kissed a girl on the hand needs counseling.

The article said he was suspended for violating their policing against unwanted touching. How many times should he be allowed to kiss her before something happens to him?

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

Im sorry, but my 3 year old can understand that we only kiss our family. When I first started daycare last year, the two 3 year olds were always kissing, so I had to make that rule. They know it, and frequently quote it back to me. The only one exempt is the baby. I can buy that a 1 year old doesnt understand Smile This isnt about a child not understanding, or accidentally doing something. At this point he knew the rule and knew he was breaking it.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1535

I always hear things like this with people questioning the schools actions, and I have to side with the school. I know that it may seem extreme to some people, but we are never allowed to hear all the schools side because of privacy laws. The schools hands are tied and the parents can say whatever they want.

And I do believe that 6 year olds can learn about personal space boundaries, and they should at this age.

MissyJ's picture
Joined: 01/31/02
Posts: 3212

In another version from Yahoo the boy's mom claims that it was other children that reported the kiss vs. the little girl involved. *IF* -- as this mom claims -- the girl was OK with it do you all still believe that this should fall into the category of sexual harassment? (I understand that it could be against school policy as it is within Kyla's daycare... but this type of label is extremely damaging.)

For me, the girl's feelings should be leading the way in how this is handled. I would hate for her to be taught the lesson that any boy showing her affection is wrong -- esp. if the feelings were reciprocated. (Again - I have no issue with the boy being disciplined for being disruptive in class as this behavior seems to fall in that category.)

Alissa - you likely could answer this as your dh is in the CO high school system... but would it be considered sexual harassment at the high school level if a boy kissed his girlfriend on the hand in class?

If, however, the little girl said NO... was the one to report or shared with a teacher or parent that this boy *was* bothering (harassing) her then I would expect him to be disciplined accordingly. I've taught all my kids (boys *and* girls) that no means NO and that they have the right to personal boundaries in regards to touching.

I'm still at a loss though on the label. What happens to your future if you are labeled at age six for sexual harassment?

(Final thought only semi-related to the debate: Within the article I linked to, the parent's reaction to the word "sex" or her child asking about it is sad.)

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

"MissyJ" wrote:

In another version from Yahoo the boy's mom claims that it was other children that reported the kiss vs. the little girl involved. *IF* -- as this mom claims -- the girl was OK with it do you all still believe that this should fall into the category of sexual harassment? (I understand that it could be against school policy as it is within Kyla's daycare... but this type of label is extremely damaging.)

For me, the girl's feelings should be leading the way in how this is handled. I would hate for her to be taught the lesson that any boy showing her affection is wrong -- esp. if the feelings were reciprocated. (Again - I have no issue with the boy being disciplined for being disruptive in class as this behavior seems to fall in that category.)

Alissa - you likely could answer this as your dh is in the CO high school system... but would it be considered sexual harassment at the high school level if a boy kissed his girlfriend on the hand in class?

If, however, the little girl said NO... was the one to report or shared with a teacher or parent that this boy *was* bothering (harassing) her then I would expect him to be disciplined accordingly. I've taught all my kids (boys *and* girls) that no means NO and that they have the right to personal boundaries in regards to touching.

I'm still at a loss though on the label. What happens to your future if you are labeled at age six for sexual harassment?

(Final thought only semi-related to the debate: Within the article I linked to, the parent's reaction to the word "sex" or her child asking about it is sad.)

It still violates the no touching policy. It doesn't matter whether she likes him back or not.

The thing with sexual harrassment is that you can be sexually harrassed without it being directed toward you. Let's say you work in an office and a male coworker constantly comments about a female coworker's looks, etc. He slaps her on the butt and she leans forward showing off her cleavage. Is she being sexually harrassed? No. Does it matter if *she* is or isn't? It's created a problem for the rest of the work environment.

If the girl is okay with being kissed, when does it start being inappropriate to kiss at school? At 6, it's fine for a boy to kiss her. How about 7? 10? 13? It makes it so much easier to have a rule (no touching) consistent from kindergarten up.

Not every girl would speak up about it. Even if she isn't okay, she may say she doesn't care. For the school to have and enforce the no touching rule, she doesn't have to be put in a position that might embarrass her or one where she feels pressured to keep a classmate out of trouble.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

Show of hands here... How many of you did not kiss someone or get kissed by someone as a young child?

Not say that the child should not be disciplined if it was a repeat offence, but for not obeying the rules. Not because giving someone a kiss on the cheek is end of the world. I also agree that it does make a difference if the attention was wanted or not.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

Show of hands here... How many of you did not kiss someone or get kissed by someone as a young child?

Not say that the child should not be disciplined if it was a repeat offence, but for not obeying the rules. Not because giving someone a kiss on the cheek is end of the world. I also agree that it does make a difference if the attention was wanted or not.

Again, he was suspended for not obeying the rules - no touching. This is the second time he has been suspended for this offense.

It doesn't matter what we did. If I violated a no touching rule, being punished for it the first time would have stopped me from doing it again. (It wasn't until HS for me , BTW.)

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

Missy - I will have to ask DH - I don't know specifically, but I honestly can't imagine that a high schooler would be suspended for kissing his girlfriend on the hand (the article said hand, am I missing where it said cheek?) OR the cheek. But I'll ask to be sure.

I feel like I read a different article from the rest of you! Where did say cheek? Where did it say that the little girl was uncomfortable with it? I think that's fine to discipline him and let him know that his behavior is not appropriate, but are we seriously speculating that he's going to be some sort of sex offender in ten years, and saying that a suspension is warranted over a kiss on the hand?

True story, T recently got a "light change" (this is what happens when they get in trouble at school) and a note sent home because he kissed a girl on the rear end! Apparently he and this girl (who is one of his best friends at school) were joking about this for some reason (she also got a light change for inappropriate speech or something like that) and then he actually did it. OF COURSE we spoke to him about inappropriate touching and whatnot, and he will be punished at home if he does it again....but I also don't think it qualifies as "sexual harrassment." He doesn't even know what sex is, and he and the girl were both in on it. It just seems like such a normal part of little kid life, to be making such a huge deal about it and calling it "sexual harrassment" as if six year olds have any frame of reference to understand what that even means.

From the article:

A child psychologist told KRDO that tough love in this case could have negative consequences. She said kissing is normal behavior for children of that age.

"For most 6-year-old boys, absolutely. That would be a normal behavior," said Sandy Wurtele, a child clinical psychologist who specializes in child sexual development and the prevention of childhood sexual abuse.

Now, that doesn't mean that you just don't do anything about it. You definitely try to teach them about inappropriate behavior and what not. But I still wouldn't call it "sexual harrassment" or act like this kid is some sort of sexual deviant at this age. I also don't necessarily think that it means that much that he's been in trouble for this before. Or is my kid the only one that has to learn the same lesson more than once sometimes?

I don't know, it just seems like a big over reaction to me. I'm not saying ignore it, but I am saying that surely there is a middle ground between completely ignoring it and going over the top suspension style.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4114

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

Now, that doesn't mean that you just don't do anything about it. You definitely try to teach them about inappropriate behavior and what not. But I still wouldn't call it "sexual harrassment" or act like this kid is some sort of sexual deviant at this age. I also don't necessarily think that it means that much that he's been in trouble for this before. Or is my kid the only one that has to learn the same lesson more than once sometimes?

I don't know, it just seems like a big over reaction to me. I'm not saying ignore it, but I am saying that surely there is a middle ground between completely ignoring it and going over the top suspension style.

I agree. My son was suspended last year when he was 6 because him and another little boy were wrestling and playing around and he kind of humped himself on the other little boys leg. They also called that sexual harassment. There was nothing sexual involved and he had no idea what they were talking about. He would have also been classified as having been in trouble before, because he talks a lot and has trouble keeping quiet and not making noises, so he gets written up in class for it. I didn't complain about it but thought it was a little silly to suspend a child for something they don't even really understand. Of course we discussed it and why it was inappropriate, but that discussion would have done the job without a suspension.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1535

I saw this mom on TV today and she didnt even make a great case for her son. She said that he has been suspended before for kissing, and he has been suspended for wrestling and jumping on another kid. Sounds like he is not getting the message.

I may be sensitive to this, last year as a 5th grader my DD kept dealing with a boy touching her butt. The boy kept saying that he didnt think it was bad. I finally talked to the other mom, she just kept saying that she didnt think it was bad and that she had never talked to her boys about not touching other peoples butts. I was floored, she really disagreed that it was inappropriate. I finally just explained that I didnt want her son to touch my daughter anywhere. He stopped touching mine, but started touching other girls. The school did intervene, the kid ended up going to another school. I think this boys parents were completely at fault. If he wasnt being taught about appropriate touching at home, no school was going to change him

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
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"GloriaInTX" wrote:

I agree. My son was suspended last year when he was 6 because him and another little boy were wrestling and playing around and he kind of humped himself on the other little boys leg. They also called that sexual harassment. There was nothing sexual involved and he had no idea what they were talking about. He would have also been classified as having been in trouble before, because he talks a lot and has trouble keeping quiet and not making noises, so he gets written up in class for it. I didn't complain about it but thought it was a little silly to suspend a child for something they don't even really understand. Of course we discussed it and why it was inappropriate, but that discussion would have done the job without a suspension.

#1. One of the preparations when sending your child to school should be to have a discussion about what behaviors are appropriate there and what aren't.
#2. If your child is incapable of understanding that he needs to keep his private parts to himself and that he needs to respect other people's bodies, then I'd say he's not ready to be at school.
#3. In our school the very first week the kids are taught what the school rules are, and are told what the consequences will be. If this isn't standard at every school, it should be.
#4. Rubbing your private parts on someone else's leg *is* sexual. Kissing someone without their consent is harassment. Intimate physical contact, i.e. kissing her on the face, does makes it sexual harassment. I gave the definitions in a post above.
#5. The boy in the OP has donethe exact same thing twice before. He knows this behavior is wrong, at least that it's wrong at school. The discipline from the school has escalated each time, from being talked to, to being sent home, to now being suspended for a day. When is enough, enough? This is such a "boys will be boys" mindset, it's really appalling to me that people are justifying this boy's continued refusal to Angel obey the school rules and (b) respect a little girl's privacy.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

Stacey, is there another article that you're reading? I'm not seeing any of the specifics that you're citing in the OP (that he kissed her on the cheek, that he's done "the exact same thing" "twice before", that the school has tried all of these other measures first before suspension. Can you post what you're looking at that has all of that more specific information?

As to speaking to your child before school about what is expected, I agree to a certain extent, but I also think that you can't necessarily foresee/cover every scenario. I know that we have had many long conversations with T prior to school about things like "no hitting, no kicking, keep your hands to yourself..." When he got his note for kissing a girl's behind, I said "What did we say about keeping your hands to yourself?" and his totally deadpan honest answer was "I didn't touch her with my hands! I kissed her!" Obviously at that point I explained that kissing her and touching her with his hands were both inappropriate and what we really meant was keep your BODY to yourself, but that was a small learning curve for us - we thought he WAS prepared but it turns out we didn't factor in how literal little kids can be. That doesn't mean you don't keep giving the message and dealing with different scenarios as they come up, but I don't think that it's a sign that you just aren't trying to give your kids that message or not preparing them if they don't always understand exactly what you mean and all of the possible permutations of the things you tell them.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1535

Okay as a teacher I do have to say that no parent can cover everything that is appropriate or inappropriate at school. There is always going to be kids that will do things because it wasnt specifically outlawed. My 2nd DD is a classic case of this. If you tell her not to do something she will never try it again. But a blanket statement like "Be safe" is not specific enough for her. I have had to break it down to "trying to hang on the ceiling fan is not safe" "riding your skateboard with your roller skates on in not safe" "Do not try to jump off the roof on to the trampoline, that is not safe" She is better now, but until about 8 we struggled to get her to think things all the way through. (this child has also broken 4 bones so she is not deterred by the thought of pain)

elleon17's picture
Joined: 01/26/09
Posts: 1981

The biggest issue I have with this is deaming it 'sexual harrassment'. The child was asked not to and if he did then it should be disciplined in the same manner if he has been gently poking the child and she asked him to stop.

What I do have problems with on a larger level is this abhorance and fear of touching. I'm a hugger, a kisser. I greet people I know (not just close family) and sometimes when I meet people as well with a hug and or a kiss on a cheek.

Maybe it is because I live around many europeans and other cultures where this is the norm. My son likes to hug his friends (he's 4) and I think that's fine.

In HS I greeted my friends with hugs and we still do that today. I would be sad if a school said that I can't so affection.

Now, if someone asks not to be hugged or seems uncomfortable you learn that a person like that doesn't like their personal space invaded and I would respect that.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

"elleon17" wrote:

The biggest issue I have with this is deaming it 'sexual harrassment'. The child was asked not to and if he did then it should be disciplined in the same manner if he has been gently poking the child and she asked him to stop.

What I do have problems with on a larger level is this abhorance and fear of touching. I'm a hugger, a kisser. I greet people I know (not just close family) and sometimes when I meet people as well with a hug and or a kiss on a cheek.

Maybe it is because I live around many europeans and other cultures where this is the norm. My son likes to hug his friends (he's 4) and I think that's fine.

In HS I greeted my friends with hugs and we still do that today. I would be sad if a school said that I can't so affection.

Now, if someone asks not to be hugged or seems uncomfortable you learn that a person like that doesn't like their personal space invaded and I would respect that.

I agree with this. Me as a person I would have a hard time with a rule that I could not touch anyone for any reason all day every day. That said, If the child was doing any behaviour and asked to stop and did not that is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

Girl's mom: School was right
Jade Masters-Ownbey, the mother of the girl Hunter is accused of kissing, told the local newspaper that the school district was right in protecting her daughter.

The mother, who is also a teacher in the school district, said Hunter had tried to kiss her daughter "over and over" without her permission, according to Canon City Daily Record.
"I've had to coach her about what to do when you don't want someone touching you, but they won't stop," Masters-Ownbey told the newspaper.

The school backed off on the sexual harrassment notation in his file.