December 12, 2013

About that 6-year-old boy accused of "sexual harassment" for kissing his schoolmate's hand.

I heard Rush Limbaugh talking about this yesterday, and I see this morning that Glenn Reynolds — calling the boy "the littlest casualty in the war on men"  — is linking to James Taranto — who's blaming Obama (because of a requirement that schools protect students from sexual harassment).

I agree that someone that young should not be labeled with an offense that contains the word "sexual." (The school district, barraged with criticism, has relabeled his offense "misconduct.") And I would locate the issue of suspending him within the larger problem of the "zero tolerance" approach.

But I do think that the school is right to forbid kissing. The boy's mother, who naturally wants to defend her child, tells us that the children were "boyfriend and girlfriend" and that the girl "was fine with it." That may make the misbehavior less severe, but it does not take it out of the range of what a school should forbid.

By the boy's report, it happened "during class, yeah": "We were doing reading group and I leaned over and kissed her on the hand." That isn't acceptable in-class behavior! The school should forbid that. I don't understand saying it's fine for boys and girls who like each other to freely express that affection with hand kissing during class. How about a little support for the school teachers who expect discipline during their lessons? You're not allowed to whisper back and forth or pass notes either. This is basic classroom respect. Have we all forgotten?

117 comments:

Rusty said...

The school should forbid that. I don't understand saying it's fine for boys and girls who like each other freely expressing that affection with hand kissing during class. How about a little support for the school teachers who expect discipline during their lessons? You're not allowed to whisper back and forth or pass notes either. This is basic classroom respect. Have we all forgotten?

Where is your generosity of spirit?

Freder Frederson said...

Glenn is going to be very upset with you.

Gahrie said...

So the teacher leans over and tells the little boy in a kindly voice..."don't do that in class"....and goes back to teaching. You don't call the swat team in on six year old boys.

fivewheels said...

When I got busted for whispering or passing notes in class, I got busted and told to stop. That's the appropriate reprimand here. I didn't get suspended and classified as a sex offender.

John said...

I agree that the kissing in school was wrong. If my child had done it, I would have told them so and why it was wrong and not to do it anymore.

But I also agree that ALL that should have happened is that the teacher should have said "Don't do that any more" and gone back to teaching.

The teacher might have used it as a teachable moment to explain to the class why 6 year old boys should not kiss 6 year old girls in class. that is absolutely as far as it should be taken, if that.

Unless the kid keeps doing it, then a visit to the principal's office and perhaps a note home.

It is getting weird in kinder these days. Last week a kindergarten classmate of my grandson (5 yrs old) told my daughter in law she was in love with him and when she got big wanted to marry him.

John Henry

traditionalguy said...

The Legalistic Police State has to start defining its territory. A kiss becomes a job opportunity for thousands of Legalistic police to exhibit their irrational authority an get away with it.

A slave master publicly punishes the innocent to communicate fear among the watchers who are the other slaves.

Brian said...

"Reading group" is usually classroom-speak for a time when students are allowed to talk to and interact with each other.

EDH said...

That isn't acceptable in-class behavior! The school should forbid that. I don't understand saying it's fine for boys and girls who like each other to freely express that affection with hand kissing during class.

Likewise, a misbehaving narcissist at a memorial service?

DKWalser said...

Althouse - I agree that kissing, hand holding, and such should be prohibited. I doubt even the boy's mother disagrees. Our beef with the school has nothing to do with the prohibition of kissing (as a matter of maintaining decorum) and has everything to do with suspending the kid and labeling him as a sexual predator as part of his permeant school record. I doubt the boy would have been sent home if he were guilty of passing notes.

So, yes, you're right. Kissing should be prohibited. As you pointed out, the larger problem is the school's mindless application of its zero tolerance policy. Reminding us that kissing should be prohibited, in this context, is like correcting the spelling on someone's suicide note. There are larger issues to worry about right now.

surfed said...

In my inner city school a sweet chaste kiss is the least of it - the autistic wing and class mandated inclusion of said students lead to in class masturbation and fondling, running naked across campus, throwing excrement, etc. The regular students limited themselves to group sex in the bathrooms, regular sex in the bathrooms, the occasional bj here and there, sex on the stage behind the heavy curtains during lunch when the loudness of the cafeteria masked the throes of passion, lots of hugging and making out, so on and so forth. One could go on... Try and get a handle on that...

Mark said...

Not appropriate in grade school or any classroom. You can't just randomly kiss people at work either.

If the parents won't do anything to help, what other choice does the school have?

Given how coached the kid sounded [compared to my kid] I see a lot of the parents in this whole situation ... as they accuse the school of being the bad guys.

I suppose little Johnny wants a trophy after this and that the parents will demand that too.

W.Cook said...

The issue is not the rule against kissing, it's the school's reaction.

Normal behavior can still be inappropriate and vice versa. The proper response from teachers and administrators is to correct the behavior by explaining that it should not be repeated. If it becomes a systemic problem then the procedures should be escalated accordingly.

But it should not get to the point of suspension until well after both sets of parents have been consulted and met with. The idea that the first response should be this extreme is total nonsense. A six-year old cannot be expected to know WHY this behavior is inappropriate, nor can he be expected to understand the possible consequences and their severity. He therefore should not be held to the same standard that, say, a 16-year old boy should. The idea that this six-year old boy is doing anything sexual ignores basic biology unless he has hit puberty WAY earlier than normal.

These teachers and administrators, and indeed anyone who thinks they acted reasonably (which, as Taranto notes, is not the same thing as acting rationally), should not be allowed to supervise children.

BC _/)_

Marshal said...

How about a little support for the school teachers who expect discipline during their lessons?

They forfeited that support when their "discipline" was expressed as a sexual offense. Now they're just a pack of idiots.

Bob Boyd said...

Sadly, we are passing on to our children a hand-kissing culture in which prevalent attitudes and practices normalize, excuse, tolerate, and even condone hand kissing.

EDH said...

An even worse problem: ass kissing should be banned from the classroom.

Hagar said...

The girl's mother is thanking the principal for "protecting her little girl from sexual harassment." I think she is just "cooperating with the group" and showing solidarity against "right-wing" attacks.

The comments above are correct. The teacher should just have told him to stop that as inappropriate behavior in class, and gone on teaching.

"Zero tolerance" is always a dead give-away that the organization - usually a school district - is going to do something really, really stupid.

Hagar said...

The girl's mother is thanking the principal for "protecting her little girl from sexual harassment." I think she is just "cooperating with the group" and showing solidarity against "right-wing" attacks.

The comments above are correct. The teacher should just have told him to stop that as inappropriate behavior in class, and gone on teaching.

"Zero tolerance" is always a dead give-away that the organization - usually a school district - is going to do something really, really stupid.

Beta Rube said...

Why do teachers react this way to harmless infractions? Are they taught this in Schools of Education? Does the Federal government really mandate this, or do the districts insist on an over reaction at all times?

I can't imagine Sister Doleretta calling the authorities because of something two six year old kids did. She had no problem managing 30 children and maintaining order with no help.

Stories like this make me think two things:

A. I am really getting old
B. The Country I love is more and more irretrievably lost.

Rumpletweezer said...

Do we really want anyone this bereft of judgment to be in charge of our children?

MathMom said...

I absolutely agree with those who say the teacher should have just called him down for this. I am glad my kids are graduated from public school, because it seems that teachers and school administrators are getting stupider by the day.

My first liplock was planted on me, unexpectedly, behind the piano in my second grade room. I am going to be 60 in February, and have already been able to come to terms with that early violation. With counseling, this young girl may recover as successfully and quickly as I did.

/s

PB Reader said...

Yep, the whole point is: Why did this have to get beyond the teacher disciplining the student? It needn't have gone any further than that, but now we have strict rules that trigger the bureaucracy into action to impose a federal mandate.

Meade said...

Brian said…
"Reading group" is usually classroom-speak for a time when students are allowed to talk to and interact with each other.

Exactly.

If that were my son accused of "sexual harassment", I would consider bringing a lawsuit against the school board. How can I be sure his 1st grade teacher is not attempting to groom him for special "reading lessons" later when he's 12.

Brennan said...

Cristina Hoff Sommers was on CSPAN's Q&A talking about how "Zero Tolerance" is really hurting boys and particular boys from minorities.

"Zero Tolerance" needs to end and end right now. The architects need to be questioned and the folks that approved these procedures reviewed for competency.

Bob Boyd said...

I wonder what the reaction would have been if a little boy had kissed another little boy in class.

Matthew Sablan said...

I think since the walk back from sexual harassment to misconduct, the school's reaction is a lot more reasonable.

Ironclad said...

This case shows that most school systems could save significant amounts of money by firing virtually all of the administrative personnel. Since we have "zero tolerance" policies that require no judgement to enforce, it's pretty obvious that the janitor can dole out policy from his pocket rule book just as well as the principal seems to do.

Zero Tolerance = Zero thought. No need for high priced personnel.

Bob Boyd said...

Zero tolerance for zero tolerance!

Michael said...

No we haven't forgotten class room decorum nor have we forgotten the long ago days when common sense was widespread and stupid did not reign. How about a warning from the teacher. How about a quiet moment with the two children explaining the rules? How about separating the two? How about calling the parents and asking them to cooperate? How about doing anything other than call what was done "sexual harassment?" How about not teaching children from the second grade that harassment is something you make up rather than actual harassment?

Another reason why I did not buy new cars and boats and take European vacations but instead sent my children to private schools.

surfed said...

@Bob Boyd - I've had teenage drag queens in class throw absolute fits because I tried to discipline them for applying make up during class discussions in Social Studies.

Meade said...

"Anderson had gotten to know her victim as his first-grade teacher. The sex acts between the two took place at her Riverview home during tutoring sessions."

John Foster said...

My daughter hasn't been labeled a dangerous subversive and threatened with expulsion for passing notes or talking in class; yet!

CatherineM said...

Ann, I agree this shouldn't be done during class and if the girl didn't want a kiss and he wouldn't stop trying, then the teacher could separate him and tell him he has to sit in the corner if he doesn't stop or some such punishment (for us it was to sit in the hallway/vestibule)

I think even being sent to the principal's office was too much. Sit in the corner and tell the mom after school that his behavior needs to stop.

If they had "kissing cooties" game on the playground, would that be considered an orgy these days? Good lord, this is stupid.

tim maguire said...

It's difficult to have a measured response to an outrageous act. The tendency is to ignore the subtlety and let the jerks have it with both barrels.

So I agree with you that the school is right to ban this behavior, but I can't find much fault in Reynolds or Limbaugh in focusing instead on the insane over-reaction. And let's not let that get lost--the school's reaction is insane, not just too severe, but outside the realm of rational thinking human beings. And they are in charge of our children.

Besides, Reynolds regularly argues against zero tolerance policies.

Pettifogger said...

You are correct. In the outrage arising from the school's overreaction, it's easy to overlook that the conduct itself should not be allowed. There's a lot of room between labeling the child a sexual predator and allowing the conduct. We might start with, "Tommmy, you know we don't do that in class." If that does not work, there are other techniques. I recall having to write I-will-not statements 25 times on the blackboard during recess.

Bob Boyd said...

Look, if we can get kids like this on the Sex Offender Registry early on, then we won't have to worry about them turning up on the Duke LaCrosse Team someday.

tim maguire said...

Good to see so many people here making that distinction--focus on everything if you can, but if you can't, then keep the focus on what's important. The kiss is not the important part of this story.

Brennan said...

Why do teachers react this way to harmless infractions? Are they taught this in Schools of Education? Does the Federal government really mandate this, or do the districts insist on an over reaction at all times?

The school is acting on an approved rule set from the school board. This is a design. It is inherently flawed.

Matthew Sablan said...

Is it really that stupid? Does it matter that a six-year old doesn't mind? We wouldn't let her consent matter if an adult tried to kiss her hand.

Obviously, since the person doing it is another kid, we shouldn't react in the same way as if it was an adult, but yeah. I think doing something is the right call, and suspension is overboard. Maybe a name on the board, or a check, or whatever it is those kids do now these days.

betamax3000 said...

Guantánamo For Kids is the Obvious Answer.

Brennan said...

How much is the academic reading teacher's responsibility to teach this, if the home and the administration so far has not been able to impart the conduct message, which impairs the basics of first grade:

I don't think they need to be teaching this. However, I expect the teacher to tell parents in Teacher-Parent conferences or Open House if they are having concerns about a parent's children in their class. It should be a conversation and never an assumption.

EDH said...

In first grade a girl whispered in my ear so close I almost couldn't understand what she was saying and maybe a little fleck of spit entered my ear.

I didn't like the attention, so I walked to the front and told the nun, "Sandra spit in my ear".

Basically, a false accusation.

The nun flipped-out telling Sandra that was "disgusting behavior".

Sandra looked over at me and said, "why did you lie? You're not a nice person."

I should have admitted the truth. Never felt good about that episode ever since.

Larry J said...

There's the old joke that ends, "It doesn't have to make sense, it's our policy!"

"Zero tolerance" policies are cop outs. They let the administration get away with doing stupid things because "it's our policy!" Why, without zero tolerance, they might have to actually think and make decisions. That will not do.

As a former teacher, classroom discipline is a major concern of mine. However, some actions are so ill-considered that it makes me question whether those adults should be allowed around children. Labeling a 6 year old boy who kisses a willing girl's hand a sex offender is absurd. I have three young grandsons and one granddaughter. I can only hope they aren't being exposed to such stupidity in their schools.

Big Mike said...

I'll add my support to what Gahrie -- and nearly everybody else since he posted -- has written.

I think your last paragraph is a bit out of line, Professor. Surely you did something naughty in class back in the day -- I'm having trouble squaring some of your kiddie pictures that you've posted in the past with a perfect little angel. What did the teacher do when you were caught? Anything worse than tell you not to do that anymore?

The reading teacher and the entire cadre of school administrators need letters of reprimand placed in their permanent personnel folders. The principal also needs to be demoted as a object lesson to other principals not to embarass the school system.

SGT Ted said...

It should be the rule not to kiss your GF during class.

It should NOT be anywhere near the level of any sexual crime.

THATS the point about the "war on boys" characterization. The school officials are trying to criminalize ordinary heterosexual behavior from boys, rather than control the classroom, like non-insane people used to.

Christy said...

The sacrifice of virgin boys at the altar of zero tolerance ensures no future sexual assaults. Right? Right? Don't tell me we are a godless society.

SGT Ted said...

Althouse, you need to quit pretending that the punishment fit the non-crime in this instance. It didn't.

Henry said...

My 6-year-old is more into disturbing the peace.

The Godfather said...

Zero tolerance is a "bright line" rule, and as all lawyers know, there are distinct advantages to bright line rules: They are easy to apply, and they don't require (or permit) distinctions so they avoid claims of discrimination. So you can understand why schools like zero tolerance.

But in an educational setting these advantages are outweighed by the damage that zero tolerance can do to young minds and psyches. A charge of sexual harassment can do a lot of harm to a child, even if it's later plea-bargained down to misconduct.

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mccullough said...

Sounds like we need men teaching first grade.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann, this is ridiculous. There is no point in calling this "sexual harassment," and no point in suspending this kid. As a few dozen commenters have already said, the proper teacher response would have been just to tell the boy not to do that in class.

Kicking the kid out of school, even for a day, is beyond idiotic. Did he even know that he was committing any sort of offense?

Conserve Liberty said...

There's nothing new about this.

I recall at the same age in 1961 my private school had a child-sized cabin on the playground. Meg and Beth and Tim and I once played "house" in that cabin at the suggestion of the girls.

I "came home from work" and kissed Beth, as my father did my mother every night. Beth complained.

I told my story to the (female, single, severe) Principal; she decided not to expel me, to in effect send me to (horrors) public school - but I would have to accept punsihment.

I was restricted from playground at recess for a week - had to sit in the classroom with a teacher, who made me well aware she was missing her break as well.

My parents were outraged - and promptly sent me to - horrors - public school, where I received a much better education but had fewer neato toys.

Clearly, that was traumatic enough that I remember it 52 years later and I still don't understand what I did wrong.

Other than having a Y chromosome, which perforce makes me wrong whenever they want to say so.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Even Freud speaks of a latency period.

Ann Althouse said...

"Althouse, you need to quit pretending that the punishment fit the non-crime in this instance. It didn't."

Read my post again. You, like others here, are "disagreeing" with me and picking points of disagreement where I've already said what you are now saying!

I never said I approved of the punishment or labeling a child with an offense called "sexual."

Does anyone think children kissing each other in class is acceptable behavior? If some but not all kissing might be okay, do you think you could state a clear rule that kids could understand and teachers could enforce and parents would believe was fairly applied? The answer to that second question is obviously no. A clear rule is needed. There was a rule and it was broken.

How about conceding that?

Then we have the usual issues of excessive punishment.

"Sexual harassment" is a legal term, and we can discuss that separately. There is a reason why schools and employers need to control some sorts of sexual expression in the classroom/workplace. We're talking about situations where it's fair to say the classroom/workplace has different conditions for different classes of persons such that it is a matter of sex discrimination.

And, by the way, parents have a right to demand that their children are protected at school. If your little 6-year-old girl came home and told you boys were kissing her but it was nice and she liked it, I don't think you'd be pleased.

PeterK said...

Sorry Ann but this is a classic example of using a sledge hammer on a tack.
as others have noted this could have been a teachable moment. The problem is that the vast majority of educators (high school and below) have had the common sense portion of their brain removed by the Ed Schools. and they take the instructions from the federales as gospel trugh

Rob McLean said...

Althouse is just upset that the boy kissed a girl's hand, and not another boy's.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

And, by the way, parents have a right to demand that their children are protected at school.

Is there a way to get protection from Progressive indoctrination? That is far more insidious and damaging than a kiss on the back of the hand.

CatherineM said...

Ann, you are not listening.

No one is saying that NOTHING should have been done or that a rule of behavior wasn't broken (if he wasn't kissing, he's disrupting class and not paying attention). I think we gave plenty of suggestions, but the school and you are over reacting.

You say it's not allowed and you mention it to parents when they pick him up. If it continues, after the first time, reinforce it by separating them and sitting in the has to sit in the corner, and you mention it to the parents his behavior and how he is having a hard time behaving appropriately.

I don't see why he was suspended or why this even warranted a trip to the principal.

Mark said...

From my reading of the article, this isn't the first time this kid has had behavioral issues at school.

You know, the sort of things that the parents used to try to help sort out. I knew my butt would hurt if I was ever sent to the principal for repeat offenses in the class room.

But Hunter's mom won't believe her little angel did anything.

The labeling of it as sexual was over the top, but it was harrassment. If the boy were a couple years older we wouldn't be having this conversation. At what age do we draw the line, because it does get drawn somewhere.

The boy's own mom says he has a `crush'. If we want to put teenage emotional states onto 6 year olds, then teenage motives likely apply too.

Andy Freeman said...

> The girl's mother is thanking the principal for "protecting her little girl from sexual harassment." I think she is just "cooperating with the group" and showing solidarity against "right-wing" attacks.

She got the message - if you don't help us, we'll go after your kid.

Has the little girl been heard from?

RecChief said...

Yes, it's not acceptable behavior, so you talk to the boy, tell him that such behavior is against the rules, and not to do it again. I think Gahrie said it best.

But what you don't do is label the 6 yr old as a sexual abuser.

Rob McLean said...

Handing out condoms in school is OK, but six-year-olds kissing each other is straight out!

The boy should've told the teacher that he was a Democratic president. (They never get charged with sexual harassment!)

jr565 said...

Even if you want to discourage kissing in school don't stigmatize kids by saying what they're doing is sexual harrasment.
That's political correctness run amok.
When I was a young kid I distinctly remembered three girls that would attack me and then kiss me. And another girl who kept taking down her pants and showing me her butt and vagina. And we were like 6 at the time!
For me it was embarrassing since it was done in front of everybody and I didn't yet fully get that I liked girls (even though I did just Not the ones trying to kiss me). But sexual harassment?
Give me a break.

Ann Althouse said...

"No one is saying that NOTHING should have been done or that a rule of behavior wasn't broken (if he wasn't kissing, he's disrupting class and not paying attention). I think we gave plenty of suggestions, but the school and you are over reacting."

I think some people are saying that the boy's kiss was a nice gesture that the girl liked and therefore there was nothing that should be considered an infraction.

That's what I am disagreeing with.

Those who keep returning to the topic of excessive punishment are not disagreeing with me. I'm calling you out for relying on an argumentative fallacy: attributing an idea to me and then attacking that idea.

It's really bad form. Once you see you are doing it, you should stop. Your own argument looks weak if you do not.

You might say, but I don't want to talk about the point YOU made. I want to talk about the problem I have. But I began the post by saying that I agreed about that problem, so all you're saying is you don't like the focus I chose for my blog post on this story. You wish I blogged it the same way as everyone else did.

That's not what happens here!

elkh1 said...

I support his suspension for behaving inappropriately if he was warned a couple of times. He is only six, for goodness sake.

But to accuse him of sexual harassment and put that in his school record is stupid and unconscionable.

Ann Althouse said...

"I support his suspension for behaving inappropriately if he was warned a couple of times."

Maybe he was. Do we know?

Mr. D said...

Here's the challenge, Professor. You say this:

Those who keep returning to the topic of excessive punishment are not disagreeing with me. I'm calling you out for relying on an argumentative fallacy: attributing an idea to me and then attacking that idea.

It's really bad form. Once you see you are doing it, you should stop. Your own argument looks weak if you do not.


I agree. But in the very same comment, you say:

I think some people are saying that the boy's kiss was a nice gesture that the girl liked and therefore there was nothing that should be considered an infraction.

That's what I am disagreeing with.


Who are "some people?" Reynolds? Limbaugh? Certain unidentified commenters? Based on the available evidence in the thread, I'm not seeing anyone make the argument you are calling out. Maybe I'm missing something....

Unknown said...

Should be forbidden, sure. Give him a time out or send him to the principle's office, but do NOT put on his record that follows him forever after that he was guilty of sexual harassment. Good heavens!

Heather said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meade said...

Do we know the girl didn't put her hand up to the boy's face and tell him to kiss it or else?

Rob McLean said...

You wish I blogged it the same way as everyone else did.

That's not what happens here!


Burr. Saddle.

Sorry, but you're defending the school's right to punish a six-year-old kid for a non-offense. And since schools are invariably run by quasi-Marxist ding-dongs these days, that means you're defending the school's right to brand him a sexual predator. QED. Because they can.

Marshal said...

Heather said...
We make a big deal that the consequence are so disparate with the crime, but forget that the baker was out of some money.


It's not foprgotten, it's merely far less important.

Heather said...

I think some people are saying that the boy's kiss was a nice gesture that the girl liked and therefore there was nothing that should be considered an infraction.

It's like Jean Valjean stealing bread. We make a big deal that the consequences are so disparate with the crime, but forget that the baker was out of some money.

By defining the "crime" as sexual harassment the school made the girl the victim. Saying the girl didn't mind is stating there was no sexual harassment, therefore no crime has been established.

The real problem was the kid caused a class disruption. The school didn't treat it as such. So neither are the people complaining about the pure stupidity of the teacher and administration.

n.n said...

The response should have been advisory, not punitive. Certainly for a child. Certainly for a microinfraction. There was a time when people could learn from communication. Today, they demand a quick fix, which is typically coercive.

Oh, well. People learn and follow the example set by their "leaders".

Is the district's policy designed to avoid liability? Perhaps to set a standard which will mitigate screeching of equal rights violations? The parents who are protesting should consider the tactics of civil right advocates and activists.

That said, there should be no effort to classify or intimate that heterosexual behavior is dysfunctional or inappropriate. As we wade through early human evolution, we should be careful to preserve moral behavior, but also to avoid sabotaging human fitness. We should probably also be wary of fomenting conflict between men and women.

Bob Ellison said...

I have been serially infatuated with girls and women since I was four years old. Back then, it really was just love. I had no sexual desire.

Most boys and men are far more romantic than we assume.

Julie C said...

The school is cheapening the disciplinary value of a suspension by using it for this type of behavior. The boy should be told, in no uncertain terms, that he needs to keep his hands/lips to himself. I would think that time spent in a chair by himself, or a recess spent inside, would be a suitable punishment.

Suspensions should be for serious stuff - slapping a teacher or fellow student, for example, or letting off explosives at school. Thank goodness my kids went to an elementary school with a sensible principal.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Agreed with Mr. D. I don't see anyone here arguing that the teacher shouldn't have conveyed to the student that he shouldn't do that in class.

Ann, if all you meant to convey was that this was inappropriate behavior on the part of the student, but that the incident could have been handled better by the teacher and the administration, I submit that you would have written a much different post.

CatherineM said...

Meade - According to CNN, the girls mom said, "Hunter had tried to kiss her daughter over and over without her permission. I've had to coach her about what to do when you don't want someone touching you, but they won't stop."

Although Ann seems to think I believe it's OK (I don't) or that I don't support the teachers (I do), I still think even the mom of the kid is over reacting like her daughter is dealing with a sexual predator. Rather than coaching your daughter in what sounds like sexual harrassment language, if your daughter complains, you speak to Hunter's mom and the teacher. If Hunter doesn't respond to ANY normal discipline that I previously mentioned, perhaps he needs to see a shrink? Perhaps he has been exposed to inappropriate behavior.

Either way, I just don't see adults helping the kids here. Suspending him doesn't solve anything either.

AlanKH said...

Only a leftist or an Islamist could confuse affection for a sexual come-on.

And they call conservatives prudes.

gregq said...

Why should the school ban that? because it's "disruptive"? If it had actually disrupted the class, then one would expect the teacher to deal with it, and that would be the end of it.

But, clearly it was not, in fact, disruptive, since the teacher didn't notice, and the "issue" was brought up by other kids, after class was over.

So, other than a puritan desire to force icky kissing out of school, what they problem that justifies the school's response?

And what should receive similar response? If he gave her a quiet "low five", should he be suspended for that? How about a fist bump? How about blowing her a kiss?

Meade said...

Thanks, CatherineM. Good points.

Renee said...

How do stories like this become public?

Anyone?

I agree with Julie C.

"The school is cheapening the disciplinary value of a suspension by using it for this type of behavior. The boy should be told, in no uncertain terms, that he needs to keep his hands/lips to himself. I would think that time spent in a chair by himself, or a recess spent inside, would be a suitable punishment. "

Julie C said...

My experience has been that boys are more often viewed through a lens of suspicion by teachers and administrators. Girls are more subtle with their bad behavior and as long as they don't disrupt the class, they can get away with some fairly bad bullying.

I also think people here are responding to so many stories of this type of overreach. The other one that caught my eye was a boy who did a hand gesture of using a bow and arrow (he was goofing off with another kid - obviously he had just seen the latest Hunger Games movie) and was suspended for a violation of the school's policy on weapons.

cubanbob said...

If only schools were to prioritize zero tolerance behavior in order of importance such as failing to actually study and from there down the line to actual disruptive behaviors that are all to common in the public schools.

Should Hunter have been disciplined? Yes. Should have he been 'sentenced' to be labeled a sex deviant in his transcript is more of a crime, a real crime, unlike what the kid did. Those administrators responsible should be fired and stripped of their pensions. Administrators are paid to administrate, that requires a bit of thought and judgment, not just following some literal rules no matter how silly the outcome.

Elise Ronan said...

The school may have gone overboard by suspending the boy for a first offense, but I agree with the Prof. that there is a modicum of discipline that needs to be maintained in the classroom. But even more so, why is it OK for the boy to simply decide to kiss a girl without asking, just because he is 6? He will not be 6 forever and needs to understand that the girl has a right of refusal and its her personal space that he was invading. BTW I am the mother of two grown sons and always taught them appropriate behavior when it came to girls.

http://usa2mom.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/6-year-old-suspended-for-kissing-a-girl-too-much-and-yet-not-enough/

eric said...

"I think some people are saying that the boy's kiss was a nice gesture that the girl liked and therefore there was nothing that should be considered an infraction."

Somehow I think if the boy had been talking when the teacher was talking, say, to his friend Johnny, "Hey, let's go outside and play later!" and the penalty for that would have been the same, Althouse wouldn't be here saying, "Well, the penalty was too much but he really shouldn't be talking in class!"

Duh.

If the kids are doing anything in class other than paying attention to the teacher or to their assignment, they can get in trouble.

Look up straw man fallacy, professor. You're tilting at wind mills here and those of us who know you are a feminist are wondering, why doesn't she see this as the rest of us do? Equivalent to talking out of turn. Period.

It's such a minor infraction that he kissed a girls hand that the overreaction to it is the story. Not the minor infraction.

Otherwise, stop making generalized statements about what you think other people have said (Which I quoted above) and quote us someone who is arguing that little boys and little girls ought to be able to kill during class.

If you can't do that, straw man.

paul a'barge said...

So, if you read any of the stories, you noticed that the little boy asked his mom: "Mom, what is sex?"

So, a 6 year old with no idea of what sex is is accused by his school of ... wait for it ... sexual harassment.

And you're all "oh, I'm with the school"?

Srsly?

Chris said...

Does anyone think children kissing each other in class is acceptable behavior?

I assume almost nobody believes that. Which is why your angle on the story seems so weird.

I don't see Reynolds or Taranto excusing the kissing. Did Rush say something to that effect?

"I think some people are saying that the boy's kiss was a nice gesture that the girl liked and therefore there was nothing that should be considered an infraction."

I see people taking the boy at his word that he meant it as a nice gesture. That's not the same as excusing it, or saying the teacher shouldn't address it.

Michael said...

Yes. Teachers are there to teach, among other things, what behavior is appropriate in what situations (which parents are also doing, one hopes.) But they should be able to maintain discipline without calling out the Marines. Have we gotten to the point where classroom teachers are so powerless and intimidated that they can't speak sharply to a 6-year-old, or stand him in the corner for five minutes? Have we completely eliminated judgment and common sense? Woe betide us if we have.

Birches said...

Meade - According to CNN, the girls mom said, "Hunter had tried to kiss her daughter over and over without her permission. I've had to coach her about what to do when you don't want someone touching you, but they won't stop."

I have a daughter who was 6 a very short time ago and I've thought about if she was in this situation and what I would do and what I would expect the school to do. I wouldn't like it if my kid was getting kissed all the time. But I think the school is being over the top. Suspension? Really? Sexual harassment?

Handle this the same way you would with two girls, one of whom is being Queen Bee and treating the other as a slave. That has happened in my child's kindergarten classroom. There was no suspensions, although it wasn't an easy problem to solve.

Ann Althouse said...

"My experience has been that boys are more often viewed through a lens of suspicion by teachers and administrators. Girls are more subtle with their bad behavior and as long as they don't disrupt the class, they can get away with some fairly bad bullying."

That was my experience, and I once shocked are group of teachers — who'd brought the parents of the boy students in for a talking-to — by saying exactly that. The boys knew the girls had their style of disrespecting the teacher, which the teacher didn't see, and the boys were berated as a group. I'm still mad about that, but I'm glad I said it very clearly that night.

Michael said...

I've re-thought this. I think the kid should be labelled a sexual predator and his picture put on the internet and his home address on pervert.com. A lesson for all little kids to keep their hands and their lips to themselves. Hopefully the kid doesn't share the father's name because that would be inconvenient for the father. But rules are fucking rules. If the kid stays out of jail (unlikely) for thirty years I would consider removing him from the pervert list. Assuming public confessions of remorse without hedging.
The teacher should get some sort of pervert-stopping award along with the administration for creating a be-alert-for-pervert atmosphere.

Sabinal said...

ok, instead of kvetching of 0 tolerance every time Glenn Reynolds reads the newspaper, how about we become part of the solution by becoming part of the group to fix it.

Zero tolerance became a good idea to fix crime and school violence. Now that we know what doesn’t work, we have to figure out what *does* work?

Alex said...

If they want to hold hands or whatever they're free to do it out of sight.

Sabinal said...

zero tolerance became a good idea to fix crime and school violence. Now that we know what doesn’t work, we have to figure out what *does* work?

Inga said...

Good grief, the little boy innocently kissed the girls hand, so what? I question the judgment of a principal who would go to such lengths to discipline a 6 year old for something she considered aberrant. Ridiculous. It probably caused greater harm to the little boy than a kiss to the little girl. Such foolishness.

Saint Croix said...

okay, this post has to be tongue-in-cheek.

Mark said...

"Saunders admitted Hunter had problems at school before, getting suspended for rough-housing and for kissing the same girl on the cheek."

This kid has had issues before, and not just for this.

"The mother of a girl involved in the case of a 6-year-old Cañon City school boy being suspended for a second violation of giving a classmate unwanted kisses said she feels the school district has done a "great job" in protecting her daughter "from sexual harassment."

This kid has been suspended once [in-school] before this two day suspension.

This kid and his parents have obviously failed to get the message the times he has been suspended before.

Yes, this first grader has been suspended multiple times - sounds like his parents should pay attention to being a parent. There's only so much a school can do when the parents don't give a hoot.

Mark said...

Prior quotes were from:

http://www.canoncitydailyrecord.com/news/canoncity-local-news/ci_24702103/mother-girl-involved-kissing-discipline-speaks-out

Sexual harassment is over the top to accuse the kid of, but maybe it isn't if it made the parents finally wake up.

How many times does a first grader need to be suspended before the parents tell them their little games are over?

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann,

The boys knew the girls had their style of disrespecting the teacher, which the teacher didn't see, and the boys were berated as a group. I'm still mad about that, but I'm glad I said it very clearly that night.

Never mind disrespecting the teacher. If the teacher is too dim to notice it, it's not effective dissing, is it?

But girls bullying girls really is something that teachers can miss, because usually it doesn't involve anyone getting beaten up. I was on the receiving end of that for a long time, until I took a mini tape recorder on the school bus, wrote out a transcript, and plopped it and the tape on the principal's desk the next morning. I got left well alone after that.

Saint Croix said...

hand-kissing = unenumerated constitutional right

baby decapitation = not unenumerated constitutional right

eric said...

Kill during class?

Ooops. Obviously I meant kiss.

Bob Ellison said...

I've had a few run-ins with my several sons' public-school teachers over the years. The schools are very good, and almost all of the teachers are very good as well, but when something goes wrong that requires a discussion with a parent, they seem always to do the same thing:

Call the parent in to a Star-Chamber conference.

The complaining teacher, his/her boss, the school psychologist, and at least one other (like a counselor) come in, make a semi-circle around the parent's one chair, and explain to the parent why the kid is bad. I have only sons, so it's pretty easy for them at these turkey shoots.

In these little meetings, I have pointed out that the school folks are acting like creeps, as though I and my student son are some kind of enemy. Once a teacher told me my son's problem was that he didn't seem to want to try to learn what she had to teach, and I responded that I thought the problem was that she didn't want to teach my son. She teared up, and the little committee all leaned back, aghast. The vice-principal later told me that was one of the meanest things one could say to a teacher. So it's all about the teacher, I guess.

MikeMangum said...

You people don't understand AA's point; if the perp isn't publicly flogged and castrated, then hung, drawn, and quartered...then clearly we are not maintaining classroom discipline.

Darrell said...

The school has said that the kid is always acting up--they have tried everything to get him to behave, but nothing works. This was not a single isolated incident. I can tell by that tape where he says smugly that 6-year-olds have a lot of energy that his problem begins at home. His parents let him get away with murder because his parents think he is the cutest thing ever put on God's green Earth.

Smilin' Jack said...

You're not allowed to whisper back and forth or pass notes either. This is basic classroom respect. Have we all forgotten?

You're just another brick in the wall.

gregq said...

I'm going to start pushing the "Zero Tolerance == Zero Intelligence" Bill for 2017. The bill will state that no school system can receive any Federal Education dollars (including student loans) unless all of its disciplinary policies are subject to the discretion of a clearly defined chain of individuals, up to and including the principle / school president / whatever.

Is there a problem? Then an administrator must take personal responsibility for dealing with it, and for how it's dealt with.

You can't trust your administrators' judgement? Then clearly they should be fired, and replaced by people you can trust.

Time to bring accountability and responsibility back.

FullMoon said...

Mark says:
Yes, this first grader has been suspended multiple times - sounds like his parents should pay attention to being a parent. There's only so much a school can do when the parents don't give a hoot.
And how would you"give a hoot"? Beat his ass black and blue, or sit him down and have a "man to man talk?"

Michael said...

"Yes, this first grader has been suspended multiple times - sounds like his parents should pay attention to being a parent. There's only so much a school can do when the parents don't give a hoot."


The more you learn about this little bastard the more you want to keel haul him! The nerve of him acting like a boy. The school is doing all the right things to make him into a little girl and he is all snakes and snails. Ruin the little fucker's life is the way to put a stop to that kind of insolence, that kind of rude boyishness. I read that one of those suspensions was for "rough housing." See? No need to say more. Little bastard.

Darrell said...

Parents used to go crazy when Dennis The Menace came on TV. You just know that Dennis burned George and Martha Wilson alive in their house one day. Henry Mitchell asked Dennis to think about the consequences of his action, then took him out for a malt.

Julie C said...

Darrell- an alternate explanation: the school has a hair trigger when it comes to imposing suspensions on 6 year olds.

Six year old boys can have problems with impulse control. The teacher needs to channel that energy in creative ways. If his impulse was to kiss a girl, we aren't exactly talking about Charles Manson here.

Darrell said...

Just like at home, the little boy is the star and the rest of the world is just an audience. His parents clap and laugh.

You can tell in the tape that he has no concept of wrongdoing/punishment. He is neither scared or upset. He is the star of that tape, too. His parents clapped and laughed.

Meade said...

@Michael: don't call him little bastard. Call him "snake".

Clark said...

Oh please. Nobody is suggesting he shouldn't have been disciplined. They're suggesting he shouldn't be labeled a sex offender. What ever happened to 'hey! Stop that!' We've replaced temporary humiliation with permanent ruin. We'll regret that one day.

Big Mike said...

@Althouse, the structure of your post reminds me of left-wingers starting out by saying "I believe in free speech but ..." This is usually followed by something that suggests we should not be presuming to say anything not PC, which is a continuously expanding category that includes criticism of Democrats, attempting to inject some scientific reality into Anthropogenic Global Warming, whatever.

Your push-back at 11:12 suggests to me that you don't really get it. Your second paragraph, where you agree that "someone that young should not be labeled with an offense that contains the word 'sexual'" is your equivalent of "I believe in free speech" and the last two paragraphs are your "but."

The teacher cannot handle even the simplest discipline issues. The principal is worthless. You want a little respect for the teacher? She'll have earned that respect when she can handle a minor disruption in her class without turning it into a major sex crime.

SchrefflerFamily said...

*sigh* I've got the first grader that I fear this happening to. He's VERY affectionate, very physical. Luckily, this year, its been mostly hugs. And Luckily we aren't in a school that goes overboard. They are working to teach him the behavior isn't appropriate. That we don't touch. But it is REALLY hard and he makes bad choices some days and touches kids he shouldn't, and hugs adults before asking for permission, and such. Touch is his love language. And up until he entered school, adults always went "Ahh" and "how cute" and really encouraged the practice! I tell you for sure, there is NOTHING sexual in his touch. its how he shows friendly affection and so it has been really hard to teach him otherwise. He is finally doing better... but I can not be 100% sure he won't be the kid who is kissing a friend on the hand. That's what princes do, after all, right?

So I'm the parent trying to navigate with my kid at home when hugging and kissing is and is not appropriate (kissing is NEVER appropriate outside the family) but also knowing 1) my kid doesn't always obey and 2) calling it sexual harassment is so far overboard and laughable, but could have lifelong implications since it goes on the school record. I wish I could homeschool until he was old enough and consistent enough at keeping his impulses in control, at least.

Douglas said...

It would be less disruptive for students to kiss each other on the hands than it is for them to text during class.