Who Is Being Harrassed?
This morning we have an interesting story about a six-year-old boy whose permanent public school record says he committed "Sexual Touching Against Student, Offensive," when he smacked the bottom of a first-grade female classmate during recess. The whacker was taken the principal's office and reprimanded. An incident report was written. The Prince William County (Va.) police were called.
The mother of the child who was hit dismissed the incident, saying, "we know it's just children playing around" and that "I'm upset with the school."
As Brigid Schulte reports, school officials will not discuss the case, but do say the call to the police was the result of a misunderstanding.
The majority of our readers who have commented by this hour find the misunderstanding misunderstandable. Some suggest litigation to, at a minimum, force removal of the notation in the school record. Many see this as beyond reason and some suggest it is another example of why public schools don't work. (That's easier to say, of course, if you can afford something else.) School officials get some defenders, who point out that administrators are often hamstrung by rules and regulations insisted upon by overly protective parents and defensive boards of education.
Stories like this shed valuable information about what's going but also inevitably draw comments that show how different people from different backgrounds and persuasions draw very different conclusions from the same information. I make that observation after reading a few comments that question whether the boy received appropriate parenting.
One reader questions whether washingtonpost.com should run the boy's photograph. It does not appear in the printed Washington Post I received at my doorstep this morning and I think the question is a good one.
We'll start with readerny, who said, "...this seems clearcut but it's not. It is possible for children to be touching others in sexually inappropriate ways...Yet, in this article, it sounds like the boy did something rather innocent and the administration overreacted."
John991 wrote, "Jeez. Maybe they should make him register as a sex offender? America is going nuts."
rahaha said, "Reason number 1 million that we need more private schools" and ComfortablyDumb asked, "How are kids supposed to learn anything from people so stupid?"
rcvinson64 offered a definition of "ZERO TOLERANCE: a policy to eliminate thought and pass on a problem."
But tristesse27 said, "Not sure why everyone is blaming the school administration. These are rules all brought on from parents' incessant arguing to "protect our children." Administers simply follow the rules that are put into place."
newcanoes said, "...Mama needs a lawyer, if only to get that permanent record corrected or at least accompanied by a statement from the "victim's" mother that she thinks the whole business is a tempest in a teapot. And the kid should be transferred because they probably will never view him fairly..."
dbarnes6 said, "This is over kill. Sexual harassment from 6 year olds? They don't even know what it is at that point... I can understand in middle and high school but pre-school and elementary school is too much..."
But Edie1 wrote, "Innocent or not, if I saw this kid smacking my daughter's bottom, either the school deals straightens him out or the police do. What supervision is this kid getting at home? And what are his parents letting him be exposed to?"
And fake1 said, "Maybe this mom should take away little Randy's TV rights and do some parenting..."
bobmossnj said, "Our society is rapidly disintegrating into idiocy. Adults no longer understand the most fundamental aspects of childhood... This is an age when children should be taught about appropriate behavior, not be given adult punishments for childish behavior."
kansasgal1 said, "Sounds like the little girl's mother is the only one with a dose of common sense in this story. As a school counselor, I would have had a conversation with both the children together and brought their parents in and that would have been the end of the story..."
paixfpn wrote, "As a former high school teacher... this story only furthers the opinion of mine and most, if not all, of the teachers I worked with: school administrators are frequently some of the most asinine people one can meet in this life..."
But we'll close with realgrrl who said, "...I must happily say that all the dealings I have had with 'school people' -- principals, guidance counselors, teachers, custodians, cafeteria employees, and so on -- have all been professional, courteous and responsive. The teachers I have met are committed to their vocations, and there are much easier jobs out there."
All comments on the harassment story are here.
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