9 year old charged with sexual harassment: it’s time to get a grip

When a nine-year-old boy is being threatened with sexual harassment charges by his school district for passing a love note in class, we should all agree that we’ve reached a new level of absurdity. According to the news story, the 4th grader wrote more than one note and they were unwanted by a girl he has a crush on. Other students found out and started teasing him about wanting to see the girl naked, and that’s when the school went into overdrive.

There are always reasons why kids act the way they do, and understanding the motive is where we should start. Perhaps this boy has felt left out of the boy cliques and so has been forced to connect more with the girls in his class. Maybe there are issues at home causing him to feel disconnected and thus needy for attention and to be noticed. Or God forbid he just has an innocent crush on a girl, which in reality means he wants to be her friend or become closer to her. Understanding the cause of the behavior leads adults to the proper guidance.

What this little guy probably needs is some education about respecting other people’s boundaries. He also might need help getting clear about what he really wants with the girl, i.e. a closer friendship. I would get the two kids together and have them share how they feel about what’s happened and work out a solution that meets both of their needs. And I’d always use these kinds of issues as learning opportunities: the girl could learn how to set clear, firm boundaries, the boy could learn about friendships and boundaries, and the class could learn about the costs of teasing and gossip.

The adults’ involved need to take a chill pill and have a reality check. A 4th graders love note does not equal anything in regards to sex or harassment. They need to stop making mountains out of molehills, and not surrender to pressures from unreasonable parents who overreact in situations like this. This issue should have been handled by the classroom teacher and used to strengthen the classroom community instead of tearing it apart.

Get a grip people; these are kids, not teenagers. Treat them accordingly.

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