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Sex at School and Other Stories

While I was out cooking for two Passover seders and traveling, some interesting stories flowed through the news. Yesterday, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation committed $500 million to battle childhood obesity. The foundation's goal is to "reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States by 2015." That's noble, and I hope that $500 million can really do that. Maybe a first step is curbing the number of ads touting junk food to kids?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission went on a lead rampage, recalling about 4 million bracelets and about 400,000 key chains. These recalls follow a much smaller recall in late March of stuffed balls, also a lead hazard. Note to self (and other parents): Avoid lead! Avoid lead paint! Avoid painted and metallic toys in vending machines and at the Dollar Store!

But far and away the most troubling -- and astounding -- comes out of rural north Louisiana, where four fifth-graders are accused of having sex in front of about 10 other students in an unsupervised classroom. Apparently, the teacher inadvertently left the class alone for about 15 minutes. It took a day for a student who had been in the classroom to tell another older child at the school what had happened. The four students plus a fifth who acted as a lookout are facing criminal charges.

Where to begin? Unsupervised fifth-graders? Child chit-chat during the day didn't make it to any teachers' ears? None of the kids told their parents that night? Eleven-year-olds brazen enough to have sex in front of their peers AT SCHOOL?!

What would you tell your child if he or she had been in that classroom?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  April 5, 2007; 7:10 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers
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Comments


My God Stacey, that would be a night mare. I don't know what I would tell my child. I think I would tell my child that the stuff they were doing is inappropriate, dangerous, and could lead to years of therapy. I swear, stories like that make me want to home school. Of course I know that is not a real option given I work and I am completely unqualified to teach my DD with learning disabilities. But I am very fearful of that sort of stuff. I think public schools in our area do an excellent job of teaching the three Rs. It is not the curriculum, the facilities or the educational level of the faculty. It is the other kids that I am afraid of exposing my child too. Even if they are not doing something as obscene as that, I do think kids are out of hand. I am not sure how they got there. But I read an article not too long ago that an elementary school in Fairfax or Alexandria had 230 fifth graders who created an online poll to vote on who was the ugliest kid i nthe 5 th grade. My god, what are we suppose to do as parents. I can't think of anything more emotionally damaging. And it seems as if 230 kids were involved!

Posted by: foamgnome | April 5, 2007 7:53 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like an argument for gender-separated schools to me. Ick!
I guess the teacher shouldn't have left. But it's sad. When I was 11, the teacher could leave us alone without a single child leaving his or her seat. And we weren't gender-separated at that age.

Posted by: m | April 5, 2007 8:01 AM | Report abuse

What I don't understand about the Louisiana story is how a teacher "inadverently" leaves a class for 15 minutes! I can understand a minute or two, or up to 5 minutes in an extereme case, but 15? That's far far too long to leave kids in a classroom on their own. What has the school said about this situation, and what is their response to the negligence of the teacher?

Posted by: AG | April 5, 2007 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Arresting 10 year olds? You've got to be kidding. The kids should not have been left alone. If the teacher had some sort of emergency, she should have asked another school official (another teacher, secretary, etc) to watch the kids. I think the school needs to take responsibility.

And I'd want to investigate the kid's families. Sounds like these could be sexually abused children. "Normal" 10 year olds don't have sex nor do they do it publicly at any age. They need psychosocial help, not jail

Posted by: a pediatrician | April 5, 2007 8:07 AM | Report abuse

As a former educator with a wife still in the field, I feel that the problem is too much unsupervised Internet access at home. Kids can be exposed to pornography at a much earlier age, and of a more hardcore type, than was true thirty or forty years ago. When I was in fifth grade, I'm not sure that group sex was something we even knew adults participated in--but public sex, in school no less, was definitely not on anyone's agenda. There must be some exposure to that type of behavior, probably online, for kids to believe that it is desirable, let alone acceptable.

Incidentally, at my wife's H.S., there have been cases of kids caught having sex in more or less "private" areas of the school building. What is remarkable is that in this case, they apparently felt O.K. having sex in front of others.

Posted by: Matthew | April 5, 2007 8:07 AM | Report abuse

According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spearsville,_Louisiana the "per capita income for the village was $13,542. About 23.4% of families and 23.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.5% of those under the age of eighteen and 32.0% of those sixty five or over."

Given the poverty, I'm assuming the parents are unable to spend the time necessary to be "good" parents.

I think it is disgusting what happened but I'm not worried about it happening at my kid's school as we are in a much better socio-economic situation.

Posted by: Anon | April 5, 2007 8:13 AM | Report abuse

I am horrified by what happened at that school, but not in any way shocked. It wasn't the first time, and it won't be the last.

Many kids are much more savvy about all things sexual than their parents realize. I think it's the parents who need to catch up with the kids and start having discussions at an earlier age. I also think our "MTV culture" contributes heavily.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 5, 2007 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Anon, I think you're deluding yourself if you think being wealthier is protecting your children. While 5th grade is young, it is totally possible that 7th graders would behave in such a manner and maybe some 6th graders. Kids are exposed to way too much sex and girls are sexualized at much too young ages - at all income levels.

As for me, I wouldn't know what to say but I do know I would pull my child out of that school FAST. Homeschooling is looking more and more attractive - first, the NCLB law that left my child behind (although her public school looks good) and second, the social environment. I can't believe the other children thought this was so "normal" that no one commented to their parents.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 8:23 AM | Report abuse

I don't think that living in a higher socio-economical situation is defacto protection from your children being exposed to pornograpy. And I have daily proof here in my WASPY upper middle class world that it does not guarantee good parenting either. I have seen some of the best parenting take place in poverty level conditions and some of the worst parenting take place while wearing designer shoes.

What happened in Spearsville could have happened anywhere there is cable TV and an unsupervised internet. I agree with Matthew. Today's media outlets have exposed children to far more images than we (of parenting age) ever were. I know that in the past that kind of "advanced knowledge" of sexual practices was a red flag for child abuse. But in today's world there are so many other places for kids to find that information that I'm not sure it's a forgone conclusion anymore.

Posted by: Circle Pines | April 5, 2007 8:28 AM | Report abuse

I love the fact that someone blames the teacher for the kids having sex. Look, do you ever leave the room that your 10 year old is in for 15 minutes? All the time, I presume.

Now, while I think that, in today's day and age, teachers can't leave the room for 15 minutes, I don't blame the teacher for what happened. Obviously, the teacher shouldn't have left them alone inadvertently for 15 minutes. Nonetheless, it's entirely the kids' faults and, by extension, their parents' faults for raising 10 year olds who try to have sex in the classroom.

Posted by: Ryan | April 5, 2007 8:35 AM | Report abuse

I'm surprised by all the horror expressed about leaving 5th graders alone for 15 minutes. This incident is horrible and disturbing, but 5th graders should be able to behave themselves for 15 minutes. Teachers used to be able to leave the room for 10 minutes to make copies, etc., while kids read or worked on an assignment without anything worse than a paper airplane resulting. 15 years ago 5th graders also used to walk home at the end of the day unattended and play or do homework until parents came home from work. I was babysitting toddlers when I was in 6th grade! Maybe kids have no control these days because they are so micromanaged they never learn responsibility.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 8:37 AM | Report abuse

While some on this bash the teacher for leaving the kids for 15 minutes (the TRAVESTY!!! sarcasm) how about bashing the parents of theses kids for failing to instill in them an iota of moral values. Probably such moral values would have made the parents uncool in their kids' eyes, or maybe the parents are just way too overworked to commit to good parenting.

Posted by: Aleco | April 5, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I am agreeing with Ryan here. The teacher leaving is not the problem (though she shouldn't have left). These kids would have, I believe, just had sex somewhere else at some other time.

THe bigger problem does lie (lay? I always misuse these words) with the parents and kids. I can tell you when I was in the 5th grade I had NO IDEA about group sex and no concept of my own little self having sex. Boys were just starting to be acceptable and not "icky". I had lots of friends and many interests to divert my attention from such matters.

My parents were not parents of the century or anything, but certainly the involvement of my grandparents (who I worshipped) and aunts and uncles, who were all loving and very involved in my life, helped keep me on the right path in this regard.

I just don't understand how something like this can happen. It is very sad.

Posted by: JS | April 5, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

"Anon, I think you're deluding yourself if you think being wealthier is protecting your children."

Being wealthier does not, by itself, protect the children. What it does do is allow me and my spouse to spend more time raising our children - teaching them right from wrong.

Circle Pines said "I have seen some of the best parenting take place in poverty level conditions and some of the worst parenting take place while wearing designer shoes. "

True, but those tend to be the minority of cases. On average, those with the means tend to spend more time with the children. I never said it was an absolute - just the probable outcome.

Posted by: Anon | April 5, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I would have LOVED to have been in that room in 5th grade! are you kidding me? getting laid at that age? that would have been AWESOME! and like you're going to get many opportunities to do it in private at 11, so you take the opportunities you're given. man, that story is so cool.

Posted by: BBB | April 5, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

This is an interesting situation, but i believe far too little is know at this point to jump to any conclusion:
Why did the children engage in such behavior? as a game, as a provocation ? At that age, a normal child is capable of anything as long as this attract the attention of his/her schoolmates.
Was this the result of a forced situation in the play of some of the actor, or were all four children voluntaring in the act? In the later case, i do not beleive that a court appearance is what is required for those 4 children, but it may be needed for all the other children in that school after this story to insure it does not repeat too soon.
Finally, the only escape for the parents after this is to provide a good sex-ed to those children, as the best way to relativate the experience, and to make them understand the consequence of such acts.
The pandora box was opened...

Posted by: FromEurope | April 5, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Adults model this stuff for kids, whether it be the make-believe world of pornography or the seemingly daily barrage of adults doing what was previously unthinkable (teachers having sex with students, moms pimping out their 7 year olds for sex, dads personally teaching their daughters about sex, etc). Maybe this sort of stuff has always gone on, but the 24 hour media and instant access to salacious headlines gets into kids' heads very early. I mean think about it, if we as adults have difficulty comprehending the actions of the kids in this story, how can we possibly think that young kids can process the sexual shenanigans of adults that they are bombarded with on a regular basis? Of course it's gonna warp their ideas about human sexuality, particularly in our age of overly tolerant parenting.

Posted by: Helen | April 5, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Given all the problems with this story (e.g. not one parent heard about it that evening), I can't believe no one has considered that the child who reported it made it up.

Posted by: Bob Moss | April 5, 2007 8:53 AM | Report abuse

It could be that another kid made up the story. But I have to assume the kids confessed otherwise, I'd imagine they would deny it and at least one other child in the room would corroborate the story.

With regard to the teacher--yes, he or she is responsible and so is the school. He or she said it was 15 minutes, but it could probably have been longer. And besides, parents expect their children to be safe at school. The school is acting in "loco parentis", as surrogate parents. The school is accountable no matter what anyone here says. They are 10 year olds!!

With regard to this behavior in 10 year olds--I don't care what they've seen on the internet or TV, normal 10 year olds would know that this is not right. I still think the families need to be investigated for abuse and the children for psychiatric disorders.

Posted by: a pediatrician | April 5, 2007 9:01 AM | Report abuse

To think that poverty does not play a role in parenting and child development is not only wrong, it is harmful because widespread opinions like this could prevent real work from being done to address the problems. Child develop more psychopathology when there are numerous risk factors present in early childhood and children in poverty are more likely to experience these risk factors. Poverty plays a role, bottom line.

That being said, let's not forget that this occurred in New Orleans. Many of these children experienced a great deal of chaos, whether it be losing family or friends, being evacuated from their homes, losing their homes, or having to spend a week in the Superdome watching people dying (and probably having sex) all around them. Overt sexualization is a common thing among children who have experienced trauma or excess chaos in their lives. That is especially true if the kids have been sexually abused, which is more likely to occur in circumstances of poverty and in a situation like Katrina where the parents may be having friends, relatives or anyone available watching these kids while the parents work or find jobs or whatever. Not having access to quality child care is a big risk factor for kids.

The point is, coming from an area of the country that is poor AND just experienced a devastating trauma not too long ago, it's not that surprising to me that these kids acted out. What i think is sad is that instead of being provided with intensive treatment, they are being charged with felonies. Obviously they need help, they dont need to go to prison.

Posted by: Rachel | April 5, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm. Maybe the age of 12 IS too late for the HPV vaccine. Perhaps they should start in first grade. Rather than rely on a vaccine to protect girls, maybe parents should start teaching their children better.

Way back in 1980, when I was in 5th grade, my teacher could leave the room to run errands and we'd just finish our work and maybe chat a little. Newsflash - it wasn't a "rich" school and it was a predominately minority run and attended school.

By the way, people who have money don't necessarily spend more time with their kids. They can pay others to look after them, and often do. Please don't equate $$ with good old fashioned parenting. Instilling your children with values is free.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 9:13 AM | Report abuse

If you read the article that the link goes to, it says the two girls were 11 and the boys were 12 and 13. I'm surprised that no one has asked why there is a 12 and 13-year-old in the 5th grade! 13 is a far cry from 10 and 11 in terms of what is known about sex, etc.

This school needs to look into its age restriction policies.

Posted by: Read the article | April 5, 2007 9:14 AM | Report abuse

The kids were probably just screwing around with their private parts. The kid who reported it didn't know it was sex. How can you AT AGE 10! Anyhow, were there any witnesses? It is not entirely the teacher's fault for leaving for 15 minutes. It is absurd to think that these young poor children are being charged for something we don't even know happened. The parents bear the brunt of the blame for being "bad" at parenting, and not instilling the morals for a 10 year old not to have sex. I am sory but at 10 you should be playing, not playing with your body. This case is intolerable, it saddens me.

Posted by: CJT | April 5, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Getting laid at that age, WOW! Congrats kids, you did it, im proud of you! Who would of thought that some 10 year olds would of had sex. It is amazing, how much the porn industry has contributed to the rising decline of morals in children is amazing but somehow good? The kids probably didn't even know what they were doing, but hey at least they tried!

Posted by: JTS | April 5, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

This article starts with acknowledging the RW Johnson Foundation's $500M pledge to reverse childhood obesity, implying that the "epidemic" may be due, in no small way, to junk food advertising aimed at kids. Similarly, the TV shows aired nightly with subtle as well as stark sexual imagery and situations, accessible to even the youngest viewers, may also contribute to youngsters' preoccupation with sex. It's not just access to internet porn, which can be limited by parental intervention and monitoring, it's also about the larger society that seems obsessed with sex and sexual themes and is unabashed in its promotion as a way to sell everything from cars, beer, and yes, junk food.

Posted by: David | April 5, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

1) The involved children should be seriously suspended. 3) All parents need to be formally notified. 2) All witnesses should be provided counseling and informed how completely innapropriate this was. 3) The teacher needs to be reprimanded and put on unpaid leave for a month.

Beyond that I don't think there's much to be done.

Posted by: CTW | April 5, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

"Sounds like an argument for gender-separated schools to me."

Umm... I doubt that would fix the problem.

Posted by: catmommy | April 5, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Talk about standards, talk about parents, who is at fault here, well let me guess...the kids...NO idiot, its the P-A-R-E-N-T-S. Where were the precious parents in these kid's lives. How did these 5th graders find out about group sex. It baffles me, that there must have been no supervision. Just like CJT i agree the kids probably didn't know what they were doing, but its FUNNY, haha im just trying to keep a straight face while writing this. WOW kids way to go...NOT

Posted by: Sunny | April 5, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Uh, Rachel, I hate to burst your bubble, but this did NOT occur in New Orleans.

Posted by: Ryan | April 5, 2007 9:29 AM | Report abuse

This story hurts me like a large object stabbing me in the back

Posted by: JDUB | April 5, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Geography quibble - Spearsville is just a few miles from the Arkansas border and was probably barely affected by the hurricanes at all. Northern Louisiana is an entirely different place than southern. Still very poor, but culturally far more like Texas or Arkansas than what you generally picture as Louisiana. Not that this has anything to do with the topic at hand.

I thought I'd read that the teacher was at a high school assembly and someone else was supposed to be supervising the 5th-graders.

Posted by: SPC | April 5, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

What did they arrest the kids for? Not sure there are any charges that could stick in this case, given the ages. Not even sure this is a crime at all.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Will they grow up: those who consider they are adults. "But far and away the most troubling -- and astounding ..." Pubertal males and females got into sex at the first opportunity they got: how very normal. This is supposed to be a problem!? There is disbelief and this needs punishment! So many adults involved in this affair need to be checked for sanity; and also all those who are apparently so horrified. But then: mediocrity is so common in this part of the New World.

Posted by: Ayul Zamir | April 5, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Bollocks! Stories and even wilder stories to follow. Hysteria feeding on itself. Before you know it the whole country is asking their kids "whether they had sex at school." Ask this to any 10 to 15 year "young" and their little nimble fantasy lights go blinking. Put some crisis-psychologists into that community to prevent them from doing more harm to themself as they have done already by getting the police to "arrest" the kids. What sicko arrests 10year youngs for about anything?! Take them to their pops and moms to give them a trashing if they deserved it.
Get over it - there's kids being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan for a whole lot less!
Get a life and share and discuss that life with your kids.

Posted by: Johan | April 5, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

It is spring, look ariound: the first thing the plants do on waking up from their winter slumbers: they flower: they have sex. The first thing pubertal kids do when there are no adults around: they explore sexuality: so normal a biological drive. All species, plants and animals, need to reproduce first to survive. Is it so hard to understand? But then we are talking of a democracy (Government by the people, etc.) in which Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney were elected twice!

Posted by: Ayul Zamir | April 5, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

The kids and parents need counseling. Maybe even removing the children from their homes. I think the school plays some part in responsibility but honestly, leaving a class for 15 minutes is no biggie. It happened all the time when we were kids and no one engaged in group sex. Yes, they may have thrown some paper airplanes or talked to one another. But no one would engage in sexual activity at the age of 11 and 12 under any circumstances. There is something seriously wrong with their home life and their emotional state of being. I am sure this will go to juvenile court and be a child protection issue more then a criminal matter. Unfortunately on some level, schools are responsible, with in reason, when events happen on their property.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 5, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Arresting 10 year olds? You've got to be kidding. The kids should not have been left alone. If the teacher had some sort of emergency, she should have asked another school official (another teacher, secretary, etc) to watch the kids. I think the school needs to take responsibility.

And I'd want to investigate the kid's families. Sounds like these could be sexually abused children. "Normal" 10 year olds don't have sex nor do they do it publicly at any age. They need psychosocial help, not jail

Posted by: a pediatrician | April 5, 2007 08:07 AM

ITA. Yes, the children were wrong. But I don't think arresting them for obscenity is going to help any of them in the long run.

And Ryan, do you actually think that a parent specifically teaches a child to go to school and have sex? Come on! There may be a lack of teaching of morals, period. There may be plenty of teaching and parenting and the child is either influenced by others or is a follower. There may be too much sexualization and sexual experimentation by/with these children because they are let unsupervised too often. You have no idea why these children decided to have sex in a classroom. But what is non-debatable is that they were left alone and they should not have been. The school was at fault for lack of supervision, just as the children are responsible for doing something they should not have been doing.

And poor or not, kids can and will, if bored and unsupervised and trusted too much, engage in sexual experimentation at least. That's why some parents are cramming their kids into activity. That's why some of them go over the edge and become helicopter parents. Those parents don't want idle minds and idle hands.

Curiosity is natural. What happened here is not, obviously, but somehow, whatever environments these children are subjected to made them comfortable enough to engage in wildly inappropriate conduct, in public. Don't just blame the parents, or just the schools, or even just the kids. The problem goes deeper.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | April 5, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

They are not 10. Not that it excuses the behavior but they were not 10. Why was a 13 year old in the 5th grade?

Posted by: Pops | April 5, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

So why is it the teacher's fault? I'd say it comes down to the kids and lack of parental supervision at home. When I was in third grade the teacher used to give us an assignment, then leave the room deliberately to see how we reacted. We'd all be working quietly at our desks, other teachers looked in and were amazed we were so diligent. Our teacher was quite proud of us.

Now for these underage pervs -- how do they know about sex at that age, anyway? Don't blame the teacher. Blame the parents and the kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Wow, theoriginalmomof2, does this mean that, when your kids misbehave in an egregious horrible fashion, you just chalk it up to "experimentation"? You don't feel the least bit responsible for their behavior? I can honestly tell you that, if my kids did something like this, I would be mortified and wondering what the heck I had done wrong in raising them, wondering whether I hadn't taught them some basic lessons like don't have sex when you're a kid in elementary school and don't have sex in front of other people.

Seriously, what they did is not "sexual experimentation". It's beyond that. I mean, having sex in front of the rest of the class? Don't you think that's a little beyond sexual experimentation?

Posted by: Ryan | April 5, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Those criticizing the teacher might want to look elsewhere to place blame. The articles make clear that the teacher in question was simply a high school teacher who typically watched the class that period while their regular teacher was elsewhere. The school was supposed to provide a sub for the HS teacher on this particular day, because of an assembly the HS teacher needed to attend. The HS teacher went to the assembly, as s/he was supposed to, and the school failed to send someone else to the classroom.

Not really the teacher's fault, particularly given that this wasn't even her/his classroom and these weren't her/his students.

Posted by: Facts | April 5, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Gender-separate schools will stop sexual experimentation? Definitely not. Same-gender people can and do have sex in this world.

Posted by: ellicott city mom | April 5, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Forget the sex- what about the trauma of arresting a group of pre-teens and hauling them off to court? How long will that trauma last?

Seems to me a much more sensible approach would be to a)stop being oh-my-god-so-horrified and b)try some contructive approachs rather than hauling them off to jail (really, what sort of message does THAT send?)

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I agree w/Pediatrician
These headlines are wild- while they may or may not be true. Many things need to be investigated.
The children should not have been left alone for 15 min.!!!! Come on the front office of the school should have been notified - that is an emergency if a teacher must leave her class of 9-10 year olds alone for 15 minuets. Shame on the teacher and shame on the school.
The child or children who were simulating sex or something to that effect need to be interviewed and all families involved need to be investigated - Something is not right with that scenario.
Having taught small children for many years in both public and private facilities I will tell you most (a big Most) children that age do not attempt to engage others in that matter. Yes they are learning about sex, the body, bird and bees etc to that extent.
If the children were arrested that process is not binding in a court of law- they are minors and its just he says she says- since a functioning adult was not in the room at all times..
It's a sad situation all around- wish they Post would follow this all the way to conclusion instead of fast and furious for the shock value and comment catastrophes!

Posted by: 444 | April 5, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

"NEW ORLEANS -- Five fifth-grade students face criminal charges after authorities said four of them had sex in front of other students in an unsupervised classroom and kept a classmate posted as a lookout for teachers."

Sorry for trusting the Washington Post to tell me the general region in which this occurred. However, to suggest that simply because the school isn't in New Orleans proper then the kids couldn't have been affected by katrina is absurd. These kids could have been originally from New Orleans and forced to relocate to Spearsville. Also, the fact remains that kids who behave this way have more often than not experienced trauma in childhood. Maybe it was Katrina, maybe it was something else. It doesn't change the fact that they need intensive treatment.

Posted by: Rachel | April 5, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

That is just too cool...wish someone had caught it on tape and posted it on YouTube for those kids' older siblings to check out. Awesome.

Posted by: Manassas Rob | April 5, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Ryan, no, what the children did goes beyond normal sexual experimentation. That is why I wrote:

"Curiosity is natural. What happened here is not, obviously, but somehow, whatever environments these children are subjected to made them comfortable enough to engage in wildly inappropriate conduct, in public."

If either of my children were involved, of course I'd be mortified. But I would already know that I do teach them right from wrong, and that no one is to touch their private parts (my kids are very young). So my guilt would be in not being able to protect them. And my frustration and anger would exist because (if they were older), they went against things that I taught them.

My point is, how do you know these kids weren't taught right from wrong? Sure, good morals start in the home. But other environments and caretakers have to be supportive of those morals also, and kids don't stay in the house 24/7.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | April 5, 2007 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Sex! Ick! The only thing worse than sex is murder! We must teach these little reprobates that sex is bad, bad, bad by sentencing each of them to 10 years to life in a federal penitentiary, and then force them to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives after they are freed. Society must teach them a lesson that none of us will ever forget! We didn't have sex when I was a child and life was good back then.

What has happened to our god-fearing nation? We have lost our moral compass! We need to enact laws that send a clear, unequivocal message that sex before marriage is dangerous, especially for those under 21. Besides, sexual feelings are not supposed to begin until at least 21. Even then sexuality should be stifled and used only for procreation or if two people of the opposite sex are stranded on an iceberg with no means of keeping warm. Sex was not intended to be fun or pleasurable.

Better yet, send the storm troopers into every grade school in the country and monitor these kids more closely! Girls and boys should never be left alone under any circumstances because they will rip the clothes off each other and engage in intercourse. Better yet, let's start monitoring some of these homes where masturbation is suspected and root out the real sinners. I've heard rumors that some kids in some parts of the country have been touching themselves as a form of sexual gratification and this must be stopped. If you have any doubt about the terrible consequences of masturbation, I suggest you talk to your local parish priest and he can tell you exactly where that kind of behavior can lead. They have been tracking these problems for generations and can fill you in on the horrible stories of devastation that results from expression of sexual feelings.

And for those of you who are ignorant, the abstinence movement isn't about "abstinence from sexual interaction with others," it means "complete denial of all sexual feelings." One must be especially careful when showering to avoid touching the genitalia which, especially when using soap, can easily become a slippery slope. Abstinence has worked quite well for the Catholic Church and it can work for every single American. I intend to vote for the presidential candidate who makes abstinence the cornerstone of his candidacy.

Posted by: Linda | April 5, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

People, kids have been experimenting with sex throughout the history of mankind, this has always been and always will be the case!

"Morals"? Huh? The USA is already the strictest, most Puritan country in the industrialized world. Just look at what happened when Janet Jackson showed a nipple on TV. A kid is much more likely to see sexual content anywhere else in the world (particularly Europe) than in the "moral" USA!

Posted by: K80 | April 5, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Haha, Linda, you're the BEST! LOL!!

Posted by: K80 | April 5, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Jesus will punish all you sex addicts.

Posted by: Deidre | April 5, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I agree that a lot more context is needed for this story.

How long was the teacher really gone?
What socioeconomic level are these children?
What is their home life like?
What is the environment of this particular school like?
Have these children been consistently in trouble before?
I certainly would like more info.

It's just very sad that this happened and that we reacted by arresting them. Really, where is the common sense in treating children like children, not adults?

Posted by: Rebecca | April 5, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Studies show that children start sexually exploring at around this age. It is usually highly secretive, awkward and a learning process. The taboos of not engaging in such acts were the fear of pregnancy, family and peer redicule, both of which are no longer enforced in our society. Women head over 50% of the households, the emancipation of women has gone hand and hand with that of children. You'll see a lot more of this behavior in the future.

Posted by: mcewen | April 5, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

This is the predictable result of teaching children about sexual activities without any accompanying morality. More unintended consequences from the mindless Left and their efforts. Gee, any wonder why more people are homeschooling? It's not just for the looney religious right anymore!

Posted by: Rufus | April 5, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Found this at
http://www.thenewsstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070330/NEWS01/703300345

Students accused of having sex in Spearsville classroom
By Sharryn Harvey
sharvey@thenewsstar.com

A Spearsville High School teacher said Thursday an incident involving fifth-graders having sex in a classroom is one of many things wrong at the school.

First-year teacher Michael Walker said students at the kindergarten through 12th grade school are unruly, disrespectful -- and rarely disciplined.

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"They cuss at the teachers and throw things at them, and nothing is done," Walker said. "There was even one student who grabbed a teacher in the butt and nothing was done. The students run the school."
Walker, who teaches fifth- through-eighth-grade English, said teachers learned Wednesday about fifth-graders having sex in a classroom during a Tuesday afternoon assembly.

The assembly was to discuss Dorrian Morris, the 15-year-old who is being held in connection with the stabbing death of another teen over the weekend in Bernice.

Walker said the older kids were called to the assembly. Fifth grade and younger students did not participate. "The fifth-graders are in a red portable building separate from the rest of the school," Walker said. "They never let them know there was an assembly going on."

Usually, one of the two fifth-grade classes is sent to the main building for second hour, Walker said. "The teacher thought it was a normal day and sent the kids to second hour," he said. "She didn't know the teacher that would normally be in there was still at the assembly."

It was in that room that two students had sex on the floor while two others fondled each other, he said.

"There were about 15 kids in that class," Walker said. "I can't believe they did it right in front of everyone."

The students were alone for about 30 minutes before a teacher walked into the room, Walker said. By then, the students had cleaned up blood that was on the floor, possibly from a girl's menstrual period.

"The boy who had sex had gone down to the office and changed his pants and everything," Walker said. "It wasn't just a few minutes; it was an elaborately planned-out thing."

Teachers began to hear rumors around school Wednesday and by the end of the school day, the students involved had confessed. "We had the students in the class write down what they heard and the kids started spilling their guts," Walker said.

School officials Thursday morning notified the Union Parish Sheriff's Office and detectives questioned students.

Superintendent Judy Mabry visited the school Thursday but would only say the incident is being investigated.

Frank Futch, principal of the school, said this was an "unfortunate" incident, but not a reflection of how things are run at the school.

"This is one incident and everyone is making a big deal out of it," Futch said. "I never had a teacher complain to me, but I have heard them complain to each other.

"You're always going to have those students that are unruly," he continued.

Futch said the students were left alone for only a few minutes during the assembly.

"I didn't get much sleep about this incident," he said.

Futch then declined to comment any further.

Sheriff Bob Buckley said charges are possible in the incident. "I have zero tolerance for drugs, violence or anything like that that goes on in school," Buckley said. "There will probably be charges coming out of this."

According to Walker, three students were either expelled or sent to an alternative school and two others got detention.

Posted by: Rebecca | April 5, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Rebecca,
When children engage in sexual activity they have lost their right to be children. They have now entered into the realm of adult criminality and must be treated accordingly. There is no greater betrayal of a rational society than a child exploring their sexuality. It goes against human nature and must be suppressed and denied. Besides, as adults know well, sex is serious business and, when it must be performed, should always follow strictly proscribed guidelines that limit the possibility of pleasure or fun. Moreover, this appalling incident should be viewed as a teaching opportunity for all parents who want their children to grasp the horrific consequences of sex.

Posted by: Linda | April 5, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Mcewen: I'm gonna guess that you're a man, and an ignorant one at that. To suggest that the emancipation of women is to blame for children having sex is like blaming Earth for revolving around the Sun. And just when I was beginning to believe cave men were extinct!

Posted by: Cindy M. | April 5, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

The article I read said the kids were 12 and 13. Why were these kids in 5th grade? Were they ED or special ed?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Rebecca,
As your informative article points out, sex is just one of the many BAD things going on in this school district. Thank goodness Sheriff Bob Buckley is on the job because he has "zero tolerance" for "drugs, violence or anything like that that goes on in school." Obviously, sex is very much like drugs and violence. In fact, if I'm not mistaken George Bush declared drugs, violence, and sex as the axis of evil. What are we waiting for? Send in the National Guard!!!

Posted by: Linda | April 5, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

"That's noble, and I hope that $500 million can really do that. Maybe a first step is curbing the number of ads touting junk food to kids?"

Hmmm, in my house I buy the food. Parents just need to take control and learn to say no.

Posted by: orbit | April 5, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

First of all, "M" has it wrong---it's not GENDER separated classes, but SEX separated classes. Please use the correct word for what you mean. Those two terms are NOT interchangable. As for the kids posting online who they think is ugliest, it seems that the only thing that changes is how bullying and peer pressure in that age range is handled. As a child in the mid-70s, it was written on my school's bathroom walls and the Internet has become the new bathroom walls. The fact that so many kids were involved in the classroom sex incident is an indicator that it's not just a few kids doing something, but an entire mindset that exists in that school, neighborhood, etc. It's a problem far bigger than something for which you suspend the students for a month.

Posted by: lkn | April 5, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Linda

I admit participating and enjoying two of the three axis of evil activities, and I don't mind rock & roll while I'm exploring those two. Does this mean I'm going to you-know-where?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Very entertaining this story and all of the emotionally charged responses.

I recall when I was a lad, about the age of the kids in the Louisiana classroom, my sisters and their friends and I spending long summer days running about in the buff. We did it not because we were encouraged, but because it was fun. Childhood sexuality simply wasn't stigmatized then as it is now I suppose. We studied each other with a genuine, childish curiosity and none of use were sexually abused, none of us have grown to be psychologically damaged adults. No one ever seemed to freak out. If we had questions, we knew we could ask questions and would receive the answers as honestly as could be mustered. Some answers were left for later, but not many.

I don't recall when precisely it was decided that children were too "innocent" to be curious about their body and that of the opposite sex; it used to be considered normal.

This country has developed a zero tolerance for children. We punish them for bringing Tylenol to school, arrest them for having scissors in their book sack and foist upon them the mantle of "victim" when they engage in behavior in which adults cannot (or will not) imagine a child would engage without some sinister influence at work. All gallingly in the name of protecting children.

I have serious doubts about the supposed psychological effects of normal childhood sexual curiosity and behavior. My guess is that the activities themselves are far less damaging than the "adult" response to those activities.

Posted by: Private Citizen | April 5, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I would say "We're moving out of Louisiana"

Posted by: garyoke | April 5, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Hey Linda & Anonymous,

Your rhetoric is so blasphemous that it might spoil Stacey Grafinkle's Passover seder preparation! Let Stacey keep cooking!

Posted by: KA80 | April 5, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Linda, I think your comments are a little strange. I too think sex is normal, but the context and the age of kids involved here indicates something weird going on. If you are ok with your children being involved in this kind of incident, then fine, but I think most parents would find it disturbing.

I think you can bring your children up to understand that sex is normal, sexual feelings are normal, but the actual act of sex is important enough and significant enough that it should be reserved for adults. As I think Rachel noted, often children exposed to violence or trauma, etc., act in a hypersexualized manner. It's a symptom of something else entirely, not a healthy act just for its own sake.

Posted by: Rebecca | April 5, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

And for those of you who observe your own children manifesting any of the symptoms of sexual gratification, get them to a doctor or a nunnery posthaste! Minimally, you need to secretly report them to Sheriff Bob Buckley so he can get an investigation started. On some level you may feel like you're betraying your very own children, but when they grow up to become asexual they'll thank you for not being burdened with all those nasty sexual feelings.

Posted by: Linda | April 5, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I mean that this incident is a symptom of something else entirely, not a simple innocent sexual exploration.

Running around naked as kids, exploring and looking at each other's bodies, all fine. I have no problem with that. But the CONTEXT of this incident, how and where it took place, does not speak to me of "innocent childhood exploration" but something else more disturbing.

Violence is also part of human nature, just like sex. So would you be ok with kids having hit each other in this instance instead? Because humans also naturally experience the desire for violence. Would you defend them and say that "it's natural" "why do we suppress these things?" etc?

Posted by: Rebecca | April 5, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Rachel, you're really stretching it with the New Orleans/Katrina connection here. The WaPo story was datelined New Orleans, probably because that's where the Louisiana bureau is, but the story happened in Spearsville. I'm way more familiar with that region of the state than I ever wanted to be, because my father grew up not too far from there. I still have relatives - cousins - in the area. It's much closer to, and much more like, Dallas or Little Rock than it is to the Big Easy. Katrina did not affect that region at all (my sister initially evacuated to a cousin's house in that area), and I seriously doubt any New Orleans kids went there unless they had relatives.

Also, for those who bothered to check out the story, the "inadvertent" part was that there was a communications breakdown about who was supposed to be covering the class. It's a small school (it's a small town), one class per grade. It goes K-12. A high school teacher was covering the 5th grade class that day. She left to attend a high school assembly down the hall; someone else was supposed to come cover the 5th grade class in her absence but didn't get the word. The high school teacher left thinking that a class of 14 5th graders would be fine for a minute or two until the next relief teacher came over. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way.

The bottom line is that apparently some 5th graders engaged in some sort of sexual activity. I'm not sure a criminal issue is appropriate here; more appropriate would be an investigation as to why they did it, what they were thinking of, and whether this was the first time.

(For those who've lived in small southern towns - how many think that any of the four were virgins before that day?)

Posted by: Army Brat | April 5, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Here is what I would tell my child

I know something happened in class today. It was wrong for those kids to do that. What they did was something only grown-ups do as a special and private thing. If it made you scared or angry or grossed out, I will listen to you. If you want to talk about this later, that is fine, too. But I want you to know that you did nothing wrong and I am not angry at you. I love you and I want you to be happy and safe in school. If something like that happens again, even if it isn't at school, I want you to come tell me.

Posted by: LM inWI | April 5, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Linda, It's natural to poop, too. I don't recall any one ever taking that liberty in the middle of math class. There is a problem when kids don't know the difference between public and private acts.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

As a high school teacher, I'm often confronted with students making out in the hallways and having to tell them to retract their tongues; at it's worst, this sort of PDA is a nuisance. But, I agree with the other posts in the sense that 5th graders doing this in their classroom, in front of their classmates, is another thing entirely. My guess is that the teacher is guilty of negligence- the children also made some terrible decisions. I hope that the district intends to give these children counseling, not jail time.

Posted by: Jen | April 5, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

As the mother of five grown children, eleven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren, I disagree with posters who naively believe sexuality is better reserved for adults. Children are born with sexual feelings. Male babies get erections. Girl babies experience sexual pleasure. All of my children expressed their sexuality in one form or another throughout their childhoods. I tried to manage it to some extent and teach them that there are appropriate times and places to experiment with their bodies, however, my primary focus was to encourage and support their exploration of the world, including their sexuality.

Posted by: Kay Krill | April 5, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Rebecca, I would say that SOME schoolyard "violence" is perfectly normal and is a means of establishing a balanced, stratified pecking order. The weaker will either find some means of survival amongst the stronger or they won't.

The context of the situation being discussed (i.e., sex in the classroom in front of other children) is not unimportant, but I'm not addressing the context of the situation, only the wildly emotional, reactionary responses of the noble populace who contend that any and all sexual activity engaged in by children MUST be the result of malevolent influences.

Posted by: Private Citizen | April 5, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

This is not an isolated event. I witnessed 3 pre-teens -- one boy and two girls -- having group sex in a McDonald's outdoor playground about a year ago in a well-to-do city near San Diego. I tried to discreetly notify the manager, who shooed them away, but not before the entire restaurant full of people went to the window and looked out to try to figure out what my complaint was. Fortunately, my five-year-old accepted my explanation that they were roughhousing too much.

Posted by: San Diego mom | April 5, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

In my day, we didn't have sex education, we had stray dogs. You can learn a lot from a mutt in heat. The teacher should have cooled the malefactors off with a garden hose and continued with her lesson.

Posted by: Cranky Oldster | April 5, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Rebecca: I think Linda is trying to be funny.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 5, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Someone wrote:
"I think it is disgusting what happened but I'm not worried about it happening at my kid's school as we are in a much better socio-economic situation."

HA. You need to get a grip. Just look at Centennial High, in Howard County. The leading high school, full of rich kids. And full of sexualized teens. And a heroin problem within the school. Money doesn't solve your problems; in fact it often worsens them, particularly if you are working to keep up with the Joneses and leave your kids alone. NEVER assume your kid is safe.

Posted by: appalled | April 5, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I have a feeling that the kids weren't having actual PIV sex, but rather the girls were 'servicing' the boys. No less disgusting, but from what I understand very common.

Posted by: Phillyfilly | April 5, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

'And a heroin problem within the school'

I know of a girl who died of an overdose last summer after graduation when she was no longer a student. While tragic, one incident outside of school involving a former student does not mean there is a heroin problem within the school. If you have any other information about this problem, please share and I will pass it along to my friends who also have children at this school.

Posted by: to appalled | April 5, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

a lot of wealth at Centennial to be sure, but in reality, not all of the kids are rich kids.

Posted by: to appalled | April 5, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Anon, guess you didn't read that story in the Post about the upper middle class school where girls regularly give boys blow jobs at school. Wealth does not equal good parenting.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

How much are we, as a society responsible for this? And what can we do to prevent things like this from happening in the future? What are we to do as parents? I never thought I'd have to sit my kids down and say "It's inappropriate to have sex at school, in front of others."

Posted by: dlm79 | April 5, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure I'm gonna get hammered for this, but that probably won't happen in front of my kid(s) because I will be sending them to private schools. Honestly, the only two times I have heard of sex in the classroom was this most recent Louisiana debacle and one a few weeks back in Indianapolis. Now sure, even at my private high school, folks got frisky on occasion - but I think it's far less dangerous for a 17-year-old to hear about that after the fact than a 10-year-old to see it up close.

Where do you start? I believe you start with the parents. I'm an unapologetic traditionalist, and I believe that parents nowadays are far too wrapped up in their own wants and personal ambitions rather than the best interest of their families. I also think today's parents are far too accomodating and child-led: I am amazed by the number of parents who do not want their children baptized because "they want them to be able to choose their own beliefs later in life." What ever happened to setting an example and a structured environment in which the child can live, learn a moral code, and hopefully thrive?

As far as commercials go ... pardon me, but that seems sooooooo 20th century. I don't think I've regularly seen commercials in years, thanks to Tivo ... ;)

Posted by: StudentMom | April 5, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

On average, those with the means tend to spend more time with the children.

Posted by: Anon | April 5, 2007 08:41 AM

bwaHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! What with the dual high-powered jobs, mom and dad traveling hither and yon being important, and the nanny, after-school babysitter, housekeeper, gardener, and private tennis instructor raising the kids, those with means - if they even remain married - tend to spend substantially LESS time with their children than those who can't afford to pay numerous other adults to do the raising.

Posted by: Seattle Mom | April 5, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

StudentMom ~

You have some good points, but I'm afraid to tell you that even private schools aren't exempt from improper behavior... My MIL teaches at a Catholic high school. Her kids are no saints.

Posted by: dlm79 | April 5, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

a lot of wealth at Centennial to be sure, but in reality, not all of the kids are rich kids.

_________________

They're certainly upper-middle class, at least. That district has usually been very carefully gerrymandered to ensure that not a single subsidized housing unit winds up in it.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

My outrage at this train of events knows no bounds. A teacher was negligent in her job, leaving a group of 5th graders alone! She created the situation in which obscenity happened - if anyone is charged with a felony, it should be her! The people being charged are children! Children! Certainly, the two 11-year-old girls were. Because they were involving themselves in adult actions shows the unfathomable deficits in the adults around them, not in the children.

These children, simply by their age, necessarily have very little understanding of the depth and breadth of the issues involved with them having sex. These children, and maybe some of the other ones who were in the classroom, have indicated through their actions a serious need for counseling and inordinate amounts of attention from adults showered on them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for years! They need to be loved, to be shown what love is, to be held in the hopes that very careful and gentle love might possible, hopefully, allow them something of a safe space to heal their hearts, their souls, and their bodies. Not, of all things, to be arrested, to be judged, and to be punished with a FELONY! for their outrageously inappropriate sexual behavior that was clearly a group of children calling out desperately for help and attention from adults!

Of all of the stupid, inappropriate, harmful, and inexcusable reactions that I have ever heard of adults having in reaction to children or adolescents having sex, arresting them for a FELONY! is the absolute, dead-last, worst!

Karen Rayne
adolescentsexualitytoday.blogspot.com

Posted by: Karen Rayne | April 5, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

"I think it is disgusting what happened but I'm not worried about it happening at my kid's school as we are in a much better socio-economic situation."

The only pregnant student at my well-to-do public school in the early 1990s was the daughter of the minister of the large, local mainline Methodist church.

Posted by: suburban wasp | April 5, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

"They're certainly upper-middle class, at least. That district has usually been very carefully gerrymandered to ensure that not a single subsidized housing unit winds up in it."

I guess you don't know that the kids who live in Hilltop in Section 8 housing also go to Centennial. And there are middle-class families, not just upper-middle class.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Where did you guys go to school? I mean, I went to Catholic school in New York, and by 4th grade it was pretty much the Satyricon.

Almost everyone had at least "made out" and most of the girls were cutting their plaid uniforms into micro kilts. Even the teachers spent tons of time "rappin'" with the kids about their relationships.

Posted by: John Bailo | April 5, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

This is the key quote from the underlying article:

First-year teacher Michael Walker said students at the kindergarten through 12th grade school are unruly, disrespectful -- and rarely disciplined.

As a former teacher, my opinion is a group of students that can't be let alone for 15 minutes is seriously out of control.

Teachers leaving a class for 15 minutes was not routine at my school, but it definitely happened. Things happen. A student falls and has to be taken to the nurse. The teacher gets an urgent phone call.

Teachers are not, and should not be expected to be prison guards who have to watch their charges every minute of every day. If such supervision is required, something is seriously out of whack at the school (unless the school is a special one, such as a school for students with discipline problems).

To those piously proclaiming the teacher was culpable, I would ask if you watch your own children every minute of every day. Of course not.

Posted by: Bill M. | April 5, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

As a former teacher, I disagree strenuously that it was in any way okay to leave the children alone for such a length of time. I also agree with previous posters who talked about the older children (12 and 13) conning the younger children into doing it. After that, you've got the other kids cheering everyone on, hardly knowing what you're doing and then it just spirals downhill from there.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 5, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

For what it's worth, there are drugs in all schools now, rich or poor, inner city or suburbs. It's not good, but these are your kids. Kids imitate adults, and they obviously were imitating what they had seen somewhere -- at home, on the internet, porn videos.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if the girls in this story were coerced or pressured in any way? Inappropriate boundaries for sexual activity at a young age sometimes indicate previous sexual abuse. There is obviously so much more to this story. I would hope that all the children and families involved would get counseling. Much more appropriate than hauling someone off to jail.

Posted by: Oldermom | April 5, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Any teacher who leaves her class for 15 minutes on a given day leaves her class for 15 minutes on a regular basis. The kids wouldn't have dared do what they did unless they knew from experience that Mrs. Teacher wasn't coming back in the next 10 seconds. And yes, the parents should penalize the guilty kids, force them to go to the local hospital to meet children who are giving birth.

Posted by: Odessa | April 5, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

When I went to Centreville High, Clifton, Virginia, kids were getting caught giving blow jobs in stairwells, handjobs in the back of darkened "learning cottages" (trailers). Any place kids can do it, someone will be doing it. The answer is to keep kids in class, keep the teacher walking the aisles between children's desks, and keep the lessons interesting and approachable.

Posted by: Bartlesby2020 | April 5, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I am horrifying amused at everyone suggesting that 5th grade is too young for this sort of thing.

I started my period at age 11- 6th grade. I had been masturbating since I was 10. I was not the youngest in my peer group.

The age for knowing about sexuality and learning how to handle relationships is BIRTH. It should be an ongoing constant discussion JUST like learning how to handle money, JUST like learning how to handle homework, JUST like learning how to eat right.

The idea that so many parent think there should be some magic age to start learning all this and start being aware of it and that their estimate of that age is SO woefully off just repeats all the problems of the past generations.

Stop blaming the teacher- she didn't make them have sex or do anything which would let the kids think that it was an ok thing to do. Stop blaming the school- they are not in charge of your children's sex lives. Stop blaming EVERYONE except your own kids and your own lack of teaching them proper behavior and relationship skills.

Stop suggesting that "kids shouldn't know" because they do. Now deal with it openly like the responsible parents you all claim to be.

As always: kids do all the same things adults do- they just don't hide it as well.

Posted by: Liz D | April 5, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I call BS!

This just doesn't add up... even with a "lookout" how could the kids, if they were in fact having sex, gotten their clothes back on fast enough?

Sounds to me like the kids were probably screwing around/misbehaving without a teacher present. Hell, a teacher gone for any length of time in some of my Gifted and Talented/Honors classes in Elementary School or Middle School would have resulted in a mosh pit in the front of the classroom...

I'm thinking at most we have is some dry humping, but whoever reported it didn't know enough to tell the difference. Cops get involved and it just spirals out of control...

Posted by: Mortium | April 5, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

What they did was something only grown-ups do as a special and private thing.

Posted by: LM inWI

Why would you lie to your kids like that?

Be honest- what they did was have sex. This should be done between consensual people who are free to say yes or no, who understand the risks and can accept those consequences.

But it happens in non-private and non-special circumstances ALL THE TIME.

And then ASK how they feel. Engage in a dialogue, don't just pat them on the head and tell them to run along.

Posted by: Liz D | April 5, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Liz D, I don't think people are appalled by children knowing about sex or having sexual feelings. They are appalled that they would engage in these acts at school with others present. They're appalled that the kids seem to have no moral compass or sense of self dignity. Big difference.

Posted by: orbit | April 5, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"Read the Article" -- I totally agree with your comments!

Posted by: myby | April 5, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Orbit-
If the peer group considers sexual exploration and brazeness as a good quality to have, then engaging in those acts would raise them in status and esteem amongst their peers.

They have a moral compass and sense of self dignity- it's just not what most of us would agree with.

I, personally, engage in consensual acts at places that allow for public sex on a fairly regular basis. That doesn't mean I lack self dignity or moral compass at all.

It was inappropriate for them to do at school because they could get caught and punished (and did) and because school hours is not the time for sex. It is also very unlikely they have been educated and can handle the consequences of their actions and should use better judgement.

MORALLY however, there was nothing actually wrong that I can see, and certainly doesn't mean they lack self-dignity.

I understand people get all upset when future generations value different morals and express themselves in different ways than they considered ok- but it's just another part of the cycle.

Posted by: Liz D | April 5, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Boy, that school sounds like just a lovely place. Sounds like the inmates are running the asylum for sure.

Posted by: Chiclet | April 5, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

MORALLY however, there was nothing actually wrong that I can see, and certainly doesn't mean they lack self-dignity.

Are you freaking kidding me with this comment???

Liz D, you have already displayed a tremendous propensity for high level of self disclosure (I'm sure I'll sleep better at night knowing you were masturbating at age 10). I think you are seriously unbalanced and need to find a support group.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Well, Liz D, we'll have to agree to disagree because in my opinion having sex at 11 is morally wrong no matter how your peer group feels about it.

Posted by: Orbit | April 5, 2007 2:32 PM | Report abuse

To Liz D

"Be honest- what they did was have sex. This should be done between consensual people who are free to say yes or no, who understand the risks and can accept those consequences."

A fifth grader (10-11) SHOULD be told sex is an act between adults. A child CANNOT consent to sex, even if they engage in sexual behavior with peers precisely because they cannot understand the risks and are certainly not in a possition to accept and deal with the consequences. I am under no illusions that kids have sex at a young age, but that doesn't mean we should condone it by suggesting that sex is "normal" for kids and teens to engage in. Part this this problem has be because these kids haven't been told what expectations are to be made of them. In other words, there is a lack of moral education. As a parent, it is my responsibility to let my kids know what my expectations are for their moral behavior. They can choose to disregard that but at least I cannot be accused of failing to set standards.

Stacy asked for suggestions on what to say to a 5th grader who may have witnessed this. I think my post is the only one that poses a suggestion. My experience is that 5th graders are more knowledgeable about sex than parents want to admit. But they also don't want to have a frank discussion about it with their parents. You can't engage in a conversation if one party isn't willing to participate. But just because your kids won't talk or don't want to listen doesn't mean as the parent you stop talking. My suggestion was to make the 5th grade child aware that you as the parent know what is going on their lives, that you care, that you want to provide a moral guideline, and that you are available if they have questions or concerns.

Posted by: LM in WI | April 5, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Cindy M
You go girl - I know you...................
1977 BD

Posted by: 77 | April 5, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

P.S. to Liz D. I forgot, if you are an adult (and I'm assuming you are) please don't compare your sexual behavior with those of an 11 year old child. That in itself discredits anything you say.

Posted by: Orbit | April 5, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I think Liz D. is either nuts or a fraud trying to stir the pot.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I find it sad that more and more parents are looking to the teachers to raise his or her kids. I never thought we would come to a day that a teacher is unable to leave the classroom for a few minutes. This type of behavior comes from home! What is a teacher suppose to do next; start buying the school clothes. This is sad and the fact alot of parents like to point the finger. Oh my child would never do that; never say never. A Priest should not molest!

Posted by: Shawn | April 5, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Orbit:
That makes sense to me. A lot of adults consider what *I* do at age 27 to be morally wrong, even though it's completely informed, consensual and educated.
And no, I'm not comparing my current sexuality with "normal current 11 yo sexuality." But people, as they always have, are suggesting that 10-11 yos are/should be sexless beings. They simply aren't, never have been, and certainly aren't today.

LM:
I must agree that some talking is better than no talking. And you should teach your kids that you feel sex should be only for adults if that is your value. But you shouldn't tell them that's what it IS. And I agree that you can't make them talk and shouldn't hover, but I think asking how they feel is a good way to open the door. If they don't have anything to say after that, then you drop it.

2:40:
Fraud, no. Stir the pot, no. Though I do understand how it would look like that.

Posted by: Liz D | April 5, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Rachel, Rachel, Rachel - you have a lot to learn about poverty. Your bigoted remarks reflect your true ignorance of social matters.

This is all about a moral, disciplined upbringing. Wealth standing has absolutely nothing to do with "perversion", other than a non-poverty child might have the wealth, connections and ability to pay off and cover up, whereas if you are poor, you wouldn't have the means.

My children all attended private schools and boarding schools in Connecticut (only because we moved constantly) and there is nothing from any poverty ridden school that would shock me - nothing that I haven't heard of already from a private, "good" school.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Is it me or is Liz D depraved?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

It's definitely not you.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I attended public schools but I grew up across the street from a Catholic church and school complex in a large city.

Guess what? Virtually everything we learned about sex, drugs, alcohol, smoking, and shoplifting came from neighborhood kids who attended the Catholic school. I can't tell you how many times as an adult I have heard similar stories from others in diverse towns across the country. And of course we all know what the priests have been up to.

My friend's 13-year-old daughter lost her virginity last year at a Baptist summer camp in Missouri. According to the girl sex is rampant at the camp. Ironically, my friend sent her there because she was misbehaving at school and needed more structure. Also last summer, a 19-year-old female "camp counselor" was fired for allegedly having some kind of sexual encounter with a 16-year-old boy.

It makes me subscribe to the theory that there's a correlation between authoritarian rule and the extent to which kids rebel by sneaking around and pulling dumb stunts. It would be nice to believe that kids dutifully obey their parents but part of growing up is pushing the boundaries and trying things that parents wouldn't approve of. That is why it's important to have a respectful relationship with your child from early on, to increase the likelihood that they actually take into consideration what you tell them. You have to give your child tools to cope with the world when you're not there because sooner or later, you're not going to be there.

And if you haven't developed mutual trust and respect by the time your child is six or seven, you're faced with a nearly insurmountable challenge. Unfortunately a lot of parents wait until their children start experimenting with life before they "have a talk," and by then it's too late. Or they play the power card and insist that their child should respect them for no other reason than they're the authority figure. Hogwash! If it's not mutual, it ain't gonna happen folks. Kids have to have a better reason than, "Because I told you so."

Posted by: Karen | April 5, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Are we talking intercourse or Clinton-type sex? Just curious.

Posted by: questionthemedia | April 5, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Liz

I think I get that the point you are trying to make is that sex in and of itself is nothing to be ashamed of, but how a parent discusses sex has to take in consideration what is appropriate for a child at a certain stage of development. If this had taken place in a high-school classroom, the tone and nature of the discussion would be vastly different when the child/witness in question is 16 than when the child/witness is 10 or 11. I can certainly explain the mechanics of the sexual act, but any discussion of sex should include a discussion about the morality of sex. Obviously it should be consensual but can a 10 year old understand what it means to consent such an intimate act? IMO, at the age of ten, they only need to know that the act of sex is something that happens between adults. As they get older, you can make the conversion more mature by discussing issues of consent, responsibility, and the consequences of sex.

Posted by: LM in WI | April 5, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

You puritans can spout off all you like about morals, blah, blah, blah, but I and many of my friends were also masturbating by the time we were 10 or 11. You're the same people who blush when you hear words like penis and vagina. It's NORMAL for children of all ages to manipulate their genitals for pleasure!! Get used to it. And uh, oh yeah, we pretty much weren't talking to our parents about it.

So I can pretty much assure you that sex is here to stay and no amount of posturing by the Jesus Freaks will change that. The only relevant question is whether your kids will grow up having hang-ups and weirdness about sex or perceive it as the fun, healthy, pleasurable experience that it can be.

BTW, you may want to look at some of the research that shows most non-orgasmic women suffered varying degrees of shame about their sexuality. In no way am I arguing for some kind of prepubescent orgy, but anyone who thinks their children aren't sexual beings from Day One just isn't dealing with reality.

Posted by: Dorothy | April 5, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Is it me or is Liz D depraved?

Posted by: | April 5, 2007 03:01 PM

I'm not going to make any judgments. It sounds like Liz is a swinger. If so, she views sex differently than many of us.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | April 5, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Dorothy, see Orbit's post at 2:15. It's the context in which everything was done that unnerves people not that they have sexual feelings. Some parents actually believe in teaching self control. If you want to call that a hang-up, go right ahead.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Dorothy

Sexuality is healthy and it is normal and yes, kids do experiment. That natural behavior can still happen and should happen within a moral framework. Being upset about 10 year olds having sex is not the same as being ashamed of sex or sexuality. It is about being upset at behavior that runs contrary to the moral behavior parents want their children to exhibit. I want my kids to view their sexuality as healthy and normal and I hope they will enjoy sex. But that doesn't mean I want them to enjoy sex at 10. If my daughter at 24 has a healthy and happy sex-life, good for her. But there is a huge difference between an adult and a child. Somethings simply are NOT for children and sex is one of them. Masturbation is NOT the same as sex so no, I would not be concerned about my 10 or 11 year old maturbating. That discussion is a good lead into starting the discussion of sexuality but please don't assume that those of us who oppose the idea of 10 and 11 year olds are prudes or Bible-bangers.

Posted by: LM in WI | April 5, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Wow, the two extremes. Linda and Dorthy & Liz D. Isn't there a happy medium? Sure we are all sexual beings but that doesn't mean at any age we should be engaging in group sex in public.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

EDIT

hat discussion is a good lead into starting the discussion of sexuality but please don't assume that those of us who oppose the idea of 10 and 11 year olds HAVING SEX are prudes or Bible-bangers.

Posted by: LM in WI | April 5, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

When I was 8 or 9 my 10-year-old cousin and I played doctor in a cornfield behind our barn. It was limited to looking and touching but it was very exciting. I was fascinated by his erection and he couldn't figure out why I didn't have a penis. We fooled around a half dozen more times over that summer and it never advanced beyond touching and exploring. I have no shame and no regrets. Neither of us turned out weird. We're both married now and have kids of our own and laugh about it in front of others. It was foolish kid stuff - experimentation - and there was no harm.

Posted by: Lucy | April 5, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Kay Krill -Thanks for sharing!!!
I wish you and my mother could have been friends... she was a lot more like LINDA and I would have loved her to be more realistic, like you! I grew up feeling so guilty (and damned to hell) regarding my own sexual curiousity. I hope if/when I have children of my own I will be like you. I always tell myself I would be open minded (especially when it comes to sex and sexuality).

Posted by: daughter be damned | April 5, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Of course I and virtually everyone else on this post do not approve of kids having sex at school, whether they're 10 or 17. It's completely inappropriate and they need to understand that. Moreover, doing it in front of other kids shows a stunning disregard for themselves and others. I don't think anyone here is arguing whether it's permissible. It's not.

My point is that many of you seem to approach this issue from a perspective that there's something inherently deviant about kids being sexual with one another. I mean, come on, it's difficult to find a human being who didn't experiment sexually with a sibling or a friend at some point during childhood. It's called curiosity and 99% of the time it's no big deal. Yes, intercourse (if that's what happened) is a huge decision for a child that young and I would be very, very concerned about the emotional welfare of those children. But it's not the end of the world. The important thing is to make sure they fully understand the ramifications of their behavior and the emotional responsibility that comes with sex. But let's not make SEX out to be the bad guy.

Posted by: Dorothy | April 5, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm OK with children of this age "exploring their sexuality". I'm NOT OK with the fact that this happened in a classroom, that it was WAY beyond "exploring", that children were on the lookout, and it went unreported by the kids for so long.

As a parent, I realize kids these days are far more informed sexually than I was at their age and realize the importance of teaching my children the huge responsibilities that come with being sexually active. But fifth graders having sex in the classroom -- it's a bit over the top for me!

Posted by: DadofTwo | April 5, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Anon stated:

"True, but those tend to be the minority of cases. On average, those with the means tend to spend more time with the children. I never said it was an absolute - just the probable outcome."


I actually think the opposite. I went to a very wealthy private school. On average, my classmate's parents spent no time with them. One brother and sister I knew had their own residence! The parents had their own residence as well, and the two homes were connected by an annex.

The kids were "raised," meaning fed, by a nanny. The nanny had her own kids, so she wasn't a real substitute for a parent.

And yes, I would say that a large number of the kids I went to school with were totally messed up (over sexualized, drug addicts, alcoholics, etc.).

Don't let money cloud your judgment. Nice clothes and a phoney persona in front of the public does not mean your parents spent "quality time" with you.

Posted by: Reese | April 5, 2007 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Lucy,

1. TMI

2. Apples and oranges to the subject today.

3. Not all kids do that.

4. Won't comment on the cousin aspect.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 5, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Bartlesby, you are absolutely right. Some of that went on IN the classroom. I saw it firsthand (no pun intended). Cville is pretty much middle class, probably leaning more towards upper middle class, but there kids from all walks participating in these acts. Economic factors mean zilch. When I was in 6th grade, not so long ago, it was nothing to go outside at recess and watch the latest "It" couple tongue each other down. Many of us were latch-key kids and we would gather at someone's house and all types of things would happen. I don't think anyone went so far as to have sex. I certainly didnt because my mom's "Don't" and evil look were enough to keep my chastity belt on. But it probably wasn't long before they actually had sex. My point is, I'm shocked that some of you are so shocked that kids are having sex at 11-12-13 years old. Yes, it's shocking that they'd do it in a classroom, I completely agree with that. What needs to be done is teach these kids about respecting themselves and their bodies, setting boundaries, etc. And to parents, rather than being shocked and swearing it won't happen to you, talk to your kids about sex and being strong enough not to follow what everyone else does. Lastly, arresting these kids isn't going to solve the problem. I really believe there is something fundamentally wrong with their values that can only be addressed with therapy.

Posted by: Cville Class of '99!! | April 5, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I love all the posters who are trying soooo desperately to get a response by cheering on the kids and trying to push buttons...and no one is responding. Awesome! Better luck next time, trolls.

Posted by: NYC | April 5, 2007 5:53 PM | Report abuse

"There was even one student who grabbed a teacher in the butt and nothing was done. The students run the school."

Anyone ever heard of the movie "Battle Royale"? I'm not suggesting anything, but it's interesting that that's how the movie starts out as well...

Posted by: Mona | April 5, 2007 8:47 PM | Report abuse

To anon:this is not a socio-economic issue. This is a character issue and it begins at home....

Posted by: jae | April 5, 2007 8:59 PM | Report abuse

To accurately comment, don't we need to know what "having sex" in this instance. Playing doctor was something that I was doing much earlier....but not at school.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 6, 2007 4:14 AM | Report abuse

Okay I'm just going along reading the comments and reading the usual silly responses of amazement at kids knowing and having some desire about sex as if it is some surprise. And then I come to this comment.

"The kid who reported it didn't know it was sex. How can you AT AGE 10!"

What the ...??!!??

It's easy to know about sex at age 10. If the parent had done their job like my parents did, a child know exactly what sex is at age 10. All of this amazement at 10 year olds knowledge of sex and the expectation of sexual ignorance at that age is really misguided. No I had not fully developed by age 10, but I had started to develop some attraction to girls by age 10. And my dad had already explained to me exactly what sex is and taught me his expectations morally with regard to the subject. If parents would do their job, all these other media influences people have blamed (MTV, porn, school sex ed., etc.) would be moot.

A 10 year old should definitely know what sex is. Why wait for some 11-13 year olds to show them? People keep using the word "normal". I don't know what you mean by normal. But if you expect a certain type of behavior from a child, you need to teach them. They will not just do what you think is "normal" or "natural" or refrain from what you think is "abnormal" just because you have an idea of what is "normal" or "natural" in your mind. They will experiment and try some stuff and make up their on mind. Fortunately at age 10 and younger, their minds can easily be influenced by the parent. If you have a set of "normal" ideas, you need to install it. It will not happen automatically no matter you think is "normal".

I agree it wasn't a good idea for the teacher to leave the classroom for that long, but I have agree more with those who think the primary responsibility falls with the parents. I don't see why the kids should be arrested for having sex even publicly. But definitely some parents have failed to do their job. If anyone needs to be prosecuted, it is the parents.

Posted by: PersonL | April 6, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

I am shocked that parents won't let there kids be by themselves at age 10. Maybe if you gave them a little time to explore what its ike to have a healthy moment alone, they wouldn't freak out and use their alone time to have s*x in front of people.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 6, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

If the President of the United States (Clinton) doesn't know what sex is, then how can a 10-year-old know?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 6, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

For those of you blaming the teacher, let me tell you a little story:

I teach high school. I called in sick one day a couple of years ago; school couldn't find a substitute, so other teachers were asked to cover. The teacher responsible for my 3rd block class didn't show, or no one was asked--I never did find out exactly what happened. My seniors (admittedly one of the best groups of kids I've ever taught) got the lesson plans off my desk, did all of their work, paper-clipped it and left it where the sub should have...and then went and found a teacher with 4th block planning to cover my next class, because they were freshmen and shouldn't be left alone.

That's how good children behave when they are left alone. And yes, I know how lucky I am.

Posted by: HS teacher | April 6, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

From someone who has property and loved ones in Union Parish, according to sources there: 1)the kids involved did include some teens a good bit older than 5th grade age level, mixed with younger children 2)a mix-up occurred because of a schedule change to accommodate a school assembly for only part of the school, and it did leave the class inadvertently completely un-attended by an adult for an extended period. 3) The assembly was something of an emergency; it had been called to attempt to head off further violence by addressing student concerns over the recent off-campus murder of one 15-yr old student by another 15-yr old student.

Public infrastructure (police, phone, electricity, water, sewage, garbage, public schools, juvenile justice system ) many of us take for granted is either substandard or nonexistant in this very rural parish. Broadcast TV signals are spotty, channel choices and programming limited. There's not much tax base there. Sheriff Bob Buckley probably has the hardest job in the state, followed by the parish's school principals and teachers. By and large, they do a heck of a lot with very few resources. Probably they try to do too much and spread resources too thin. Many of the residents have fallen into lives dominated by poverty, ignorance, substance abuse, violence, crime. Union Parish is a beautiful place, but it offers lots of challenges for those residents choosing to live in such an isolated area.

Posted by: LouisianaGirl | April 11, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

For those curious about how this sort of thing could possibly happen anywhere in the USA, in 2007, and for an insight into a similar culture, rent Ray McKinnon's independent movie, "Chrystal".

Posted by: LouisianaGirl | April 11, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully therapy is in order for all and the school administration should take the fall. We pay taxes supporting supervision for our children....true?

Thank god my child is out of college and an adult; responsible adult...

Posted by: Texas | April 12, 2007 10:33 PM | Report abuse

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