Sunday, 15 December 2013

U.S school suspends boy 6,for kissing girl


I was shocked to read this news in TIMES OF INDIA 13 December 2013, ‘US school suspends boy 6, for kissing girl.’ It has raised several questions that we should address as a society-

1.     Whether a peck should be considered sexual harassment?

Young children thrive on touch, touch is one of their most important senses in the early years and naturally they show and accept love using this sense the most. In this case is it necessary to paint this child as a ‘sexual predator?’ 

2.     The child said he had a crush on the girl and the girl likes him back. During a reading class the child leaned over and kissed the girl on her hand.

It is natural for kids to hug, kiss and show affection. Do we want to take this away from the childhood years too? Teaching them about good touch-bad touch or bullying is required, but should we be saying don’t touch each other at all? Will this not have an impact on emotional development as human beings? Should we not try and control the kind of programs that we expose these kids to? Sexual content on television and movies leads to kids becoming very comfortable with words like sex, lip kissing, crush, much before they have even understood the meaning of the word or are able to read or spell them. There is a new trend among parents, of kissing their kids on their lips.  Many find it quite natural but I am against it for 2 reasons- a) when you teach your child that kissing on lips is an acceptable way to show affection then they will accept it from all adults. Better to teach them then that only mummy and daddy can kiss you here. b) At this young age they are susceptible to a lot of infections and the mouth has the most bacteria. I think adults should refrain from kissing kids on their lips, mainly for health reasons. In fact I have made a Muppet video to educate kids and parents about this as we faced a lot of problems when kids started kissing each other on the lips and some parents found it a cultural shock and complained against it. View the video on http://youtu.be/KVgMTvmXeUA

3.     The mother of the 6 year old is shocked that a term as strong as sexual harassment is being used for what her son did.

The clarity here needs to be clear and sensible- kids in the early childhood years don’t commit sexual crimes, sexual crimes are committed against them. So let’s not make a mockery of the law and use it against them in the growing years. 

4.     Whereas the principal says he is suspended because of a policy against unwanted touching.

If we are going to define policies that take away the human element from kids in their growing years then we will be bringing up a generation that is bereft of all emotional feelings and have no emotional bonds. Schools can have clearly defined policies for bad touch or define which parts of the body cannot be touched by adults or an ant bullying policy.

5.     This is the second time the boy has been suspended.

Is suspension of kids the solution for schools to follow? In her Exchange article (May/June 2012), "Belonging”, Ruth Wilson writes, ‘While there are certainly many reasons why young children are having such severe behavioral issues as to warrant expulsion from school, one explanation is that their belonging needs are not being met.  This tends to happen when the structure of a program suggests that, in order to belong, a child must conform to a pre-determined set of rules and expectations.  These rules and expectations, in some cases, are not appropriate for young children’.

It’s time we nurture kids in school and give them schools that help them belong after all belonging is an important need of every human being. Let’s not strip away everything good from children’s lives on the pretext of keeping them safe.  I would never want touch to become trouble for any child. But having a touch less society is also not good, so let’s rethink about boundaries, barriers and get our distinction correct so that it helps kids and does not give them yet another label.

What are your thoughts on this?

17 comments:

pjkparbhani said...

It’s time we nurture kids in school and give them schools that help them belong after all belonging is an important need of every human being. Really if every school will follow this it will be a huge change soon.We have a unique video training for parents and teachers about handling kissing in children to download on our website. I feel proud that I am a part of Podar Jumbo Kids where learning comes in full circle.

Pramila p said...

I agree child sexual abuse is on the increase and one has to be vigilant but i truly believe a peck on the cheek or hand cannot be termed as sexual harassment.where is all the innocence of the kids.A 6year old is still a child in sr kg and is just expressing his feelings of his liking towards his friend innocently .Probably his parents or elders expresses their love towards him in the same fashion. Suspending the child is rather a harsh step, it could have been explained to the child not to do it .Imagine the mental trauma the child and parents must have gone through for an innocent act like this.

Tejal Shah said...

at 6,the child is only expressing his feelings of affection. no punishment needed please. it is cruel.
children can be taught abt appropriate expression gradually.

Vaidehi Arun Parenting Corner said...

A 6 year old child is so filled love and wonder. We should simply be teaching them how to direct that love and emotion rather than scaring and scarring them. The parents and teachers should have simply sat down together like the ADULTS and responsible people they are supposed to be and decide together how to handle the situation. We've become a paranoid ignorant society. What happened to teaching the basics so a kid could find himself and evolve in this world with his thoughts and over a period of time learn to read, write and understand the world? Instead the schools are socially engineering generations of paranoid wimps. I am sure this boy is now scared and scarred in his life. - Vaidehi

Snehal Pjk said...

Punishment & harsh discipline excludes students from important learning opportunities without offering any increase in student safety or security . The age 6 need good parenting & school support in understanding the feeling s . Needs supports both from School & society as acknowledging good behaviour is the best way to encourage your child to continue it .

Anupama Sridhar said...

I completely understand the concern of the school for the girl child and so called "harassment" of the boy.But this could have been dealt with more responsibly.They would have judged balancing both the sides rather than being partial,as both involved are little kids.Instead they would have called their parents to have a good counseling session to figure out and avoid the root of the problem.Kids are kids and we need to nurture them to become good and responsible human beings. If we punish them now they will start hating the whole society and become adamant and in turn grow as hooligans. It should be our prime concern to take our young ones to a safe world than making them grow against society and nature.
Anupama Sridhar

Indu Chanda said...

Young children thrive on touch as touch is one of their most important senses in the early years and naturally they show and accept love using this sense the most. I agree to it as don't we also use this sense the most to show our love to the young kids? Secondly the environment the child is exposed to is the learning ground for him so if he has seen this happening often how does he become wrong in following the same. Yes as a parent of a girl child one might not like such a thing happening to ones child but handling the situation by suspending the child is by no means a correct measure to handle this situation. The boy in this case will feel humiliated, embarrassed without even understanding why he is being punished. This might lead to a negative effect on him which can lead further to behaviour issues. It definitely is a wrong way of handling a sensitive situation and it is situations like these which shows how well is the institution and its staff equipped with knowledge, experience and proper training systems. As when we deal with kids and specially small ones it is not only the kids but also their parents that are being trained in such a way, so that the outcome is the best that can happen for the child.

shilpa ghare said...

Adults express love for their child by taking them close to make them feel secure , that is the right of child and same if the child feels the emotions
in class than the staff has to be trained for right guidance also good parenting is must as this child is tomorrows citizen and we are the makers of society we should guide them to build the life.Age up to 6 is only developing
period we need to train them timely.

Bhavna Dwivedi said...

Comparing touch of a six year old to a sexual crime is something which questions the code of ethics prevalent in today's time .Wish the laws were strict enough for adults who are exploiting and abusing the little one's every second no one seems to be taking them to task.
It's surprising that we live in a world where a child's innocent touch is considered sexual harassment and the child is immediately reprimanded whereas even after a year the Delhi rape case verdict is still pending.

As educationists we should be sensitive towards children and try to understand their ways and if they are confused we need to talk to them,give them reasons and ensure they have well understood the good from the bad...
Here I would like to quote John F Kennedy:"A child miseducated is a child lost". Thank you Ms. Vats for bringing such issues to the forefront that makes us question and search our inner-self on how important it is to deal with children the right way....Regards,Bhavna

Preethi Vikram said...

There are many points that seem to indicate that maybe the authorities that took such a decision, may have been blind to the child's welfare. Firstly, if this behavior was indeed observed the second time, why was there no action taken previously. An intervention when it was observed first would indicate that the authorities are concerned about the welfare of the children under their care. Secondly, any such incident should primarily be discussed with the parents of the child to understand the influences that are working on him. This would have provided them with enough insight about the behavior, in turn help them to understand the cause of the behavior. They have treated the symptom and not the condition by suspending the child. Finally, labeling of the child is extremely inappropriate and raises the question of the competence of today's educators.
We all should introspect about how to raise awareness about practices that will make a difference in the early childhood sphere. Thank you Swati Ma'am for addressing and raising this pertinent topic.

jayshree shah said...

This article is very important related to child's behavior showing affection by kissing to her friend its only expressing love child has many ways of expressing love & frustration.Child i am sure must have done this act innocently and he will never understand where was he wrong? Its corrupt mind of adult that such innocent act of child is taken as offence.Last but not the least let every child enjoy is childhood as said by Mrs Vats.

Veena Sangli said...

The child has just expressed his feeling but given harsh punishment to this. This age is in developing stage so proper guidance is required.

Manju Joshi said...

Its is natural that we become alert when we hear about the global prevalence of child sexual abuse has been estimated at 19.7% for females and 7.9% for males, according to a 2009 study published in Clinical Psychology. But it does not mean we make a child of age 6 labeled and undergo such an punishment. The Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act, 2012 regarding child sexual abuse. The Act came into force from 14 November 2012.Child sexual abuse or child molestation is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent uses a child for sexual stimulation.
Please wake up educators, parents and all connected with kids during this early childhood days as we all know that its easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. As the task of modern educator is not to cut down the jungles but to irrigate deserts.

poonam chandak said...

Suspending the 6 years old child is not the actual solution b'coz the child is not even aware of what is exactly happening with him and what is the mistake he has done.The child can even repeat it same in future but it is important to educate the child as well parents.Even it is really a important task to educate all the kids a proper way to express there feelings and about Good touch and bad touch.

kajal said...

The child is just 6 years old and at this age they are very innocent and emotional. It is natural for them to kiss and hug because children learn from their adults. The child is not aware of what is wrong so proper guidance should given and we as adults need to take steps to teach them about good touch and bad touch.

vaishali joshi said...

After reading this article, first question in my mind is that really child understood why the school has suspended him? If he has done same before also it means child is require counseling. Child is innocent, he/she acts or reacts as they feel. We should provide them activities for impulse control. Our PJK parents and children are luck as they are getting training for GTBT.
Vaishali Joshi.

Jumbo Kids Nanded said...

I am shocked with the action taken against the innocent child who have just expressed the feelings.Instead of they would have called parents try out for solution. Imagine what the child must be facing if not supported by parents too?