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November 23 2015

Nine-Year-Old Faces Harassment Charges Over Love Note

Patrice J. Lee

Do you remember passing a love note to a grade-school crush or receiving one? Apparently, what you would have considered innocent behavior is now absurdly being called harassment. A fourth grader in Florida is learning that lesson first hand.

The 9-year-old boy is being threatened with sexual harassment charges because he sent multiple love notes to a girl. In the letters he declared that she’s “pretty and cute,” and added that he likes her because her hair isn’t sloppy and her eyes “sparkle like diamonds.” His notes -penned on loose-leaf paper- were adorned with hearts as well.

Trouble began when his classmates began teasing him and claiming that he wanted to see the object of his affection naked, though that was never expressed in his notes.

A month later, he found himself in the office of the principal, who called his mother and threatened to slap sexual harassment charges if he wrote another letter. His mother is understandably perplexed and angry. ABC Action New reports:

He's 9," said his mother. "What little kid doesn't write love notes?"

This mom says her son passed a very sweet note to his crush.

"How she wears the same uniform and how her eyes sparkled like diamonds," his mother said.

But soon, she says other students found out about the note and started teasing her son about wanting to see the little girl naked.

"That's when the principal proceeded to tell me that it wasn't appropriate that he was writing the note and that if he writes another note, they are going to file sexual harassment charges on my 9-year-old," the mom said.

"My 9-year-old doesn't even know what sexual harassment means," she said.

Sexual harassment is a serious matter. Many children are victims of harassment and even assault and that should be dealt with accordingly. A disservice is done to victims though when their claims get trivialized by gross mislabeling of sexual harassment on truly innocent behavior or episodes that warrant a softer response. 

Also, sexual harassment rightly carries severe penalties for the accused. Charges against an innocent child such as this fourth grader  could brand him for a long time to come. Socially, he might be frozen out by his peers and adults and mistaken for a sexual predator.

While this little boy could stand to learn what is and isn’t appropriate behavior, school administrators need a dose of common sense and good judgment. Ending disruptive behavior is one thing, but potentially putting an undeserved mark in an innocent boy’s permanent record is another.

As other similar cases demonstrate, zero tolerance policies lead to zero discretion and we end up with gross mislabeling of behavior. Apparently, according to the Justice Department kids aged 7-11 committed almost 4 percent of all sexual assaults in the U.S., but if today's case is reflective of what those incidents look like, we should ask if kids are being unfairly targeted.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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