Can a 6-year-old boy be a sexual harasser?

True confession time: I was in second grade when I gave a girl (who shall remain nameless) a little ring I had bought the night before at a drug store. She was cute. I liked her. I had no idea what I was doing.

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I don’t remember ever trying to kiss this girl, but I had other friends who boasted of having done such things with girls. We were around 7 or 8 years old. My guess is we were merely imitating what television and the movies told us grownups did when they liked each other. Beyond that, I spent my days with Tonka trucks and footballs.

Was any of this sexual harassment? Do you know how silly that question would have sounded back then?

Apparently, silliness is lost on School District RE-1 in Colorado. If Barney Fife were a school administrator, you could imagine him going on about how such behavior should be “nipped in the bud.” And you wouldn’t be too far off from what the district is doing to 6-year-old Hunter Yelton.

He kissed a girl on the hand during class. Other kids tattled on him, and now the district says it hopes putting “sexual harassment” on the little boy’s school record and suspending him will teach him a lesson.

I wish I were making this up. Watch a news report about by clicking on these words.

Yelton’s mother says she’s going to fight to have “sexual harassment” removed from his record. Fox News quotes a child psychologist who feels the district was wrong. But really, does it take a psychologist to know this? Have these people never had children of their own? Have they never been children?

The irony, of course, is that by the time little Hunter and his friend become old enough for college, they can choose from among several taxpayer funded schools that feature coed dormitories and even, in some cases, coed dorm rooms. That’s at an age when young adults, still lacking in judgment but well aware of the birds and the bees, can get themselves into real trouble.

At age 6 they aren’t aware of much. A kiss on the hand is innocent. Maybe talk to the kid; have his parents deal with it. But here’s a clue — if the Internet is filling up with news stories about a policy you’re enforcing, maybe it’s nonsensical.

About the Author

Jay Evensen

Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist for the Deseret News. He has 32 years of journalism experience covering politics and a variety of other assignments at news organizations ranging from United Press International in New York City to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Deseret News, where he has worked since 1986. During that time, he has won numerous local, regional and national awards. Most recently, he was given the Cameron Duncan Media Award, given annually in Washington, D.C., by the advocacy group RESULTS, to the journalist judged to have done the most to further the cause of the world's poorest people.

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