Today’s news brings another skirmish in the global war against displaying affection.
Not to be outdone by the politically-correct Brits, this time it’s Americans who are asserting their right to be protected against unprovoked cuddles.
A four year old boy in a suburb of the appropriately-named Waco, Texas, served an "in-school suspension" for “inappropriate physical behavior interpreted as sexual contact and/or sexual harassment.” The incident is on the child’s record, much to the chagrin of his parents who are fighting it.
He allegedly “hugged a teacher's aide and rubbed his face in the chest of (the) female employee.”
In some cultures, children are nursed until age four or five. Rather than a “sexual” impulse, rubbing his face in an adult woman’s chest probably meant he was hungry. Or maybe, just maybe, that he liked her.
People have a great tendency to anthropomorphize animal behaviour - that is, to ascribe human emotions and motives to what they observe animals doing. In this case, I fear the school district is adult-izing the behaviour of a four year old in exactly the same way. A child that age is not equipped to sexually harass anybody; they are too busy smashing their lunchboxes over their friends’ heads and disassembling small insects.
I had two boys of my own, and spent some time as a kindergarten lunchroom monitor.
I was hugged, and kissed. A lot.
By both boys and girls.
Perhaps I should have alerted the school that four year old girls were expressing homosexual tendencies by hugging me.
That would be as outrageous as what the Waco school has done.
I don’t remember it ever happening but if a child were to do something that made me uncomfortable, I would simply stop him (or her) and explain that it wasn’t a nice thing to touch someone in that place, using the same way and tone that I would if he (or she) were behaving inappropriately in some other manner.
Sexual harassment is a serious issue, one which society has tried to ignore. I fear that classifying a young child’s embrace as something of that nature is just another attempt to discredit the claims of those who have endured real harassment, by implying that their complaint is as ridiculous as this one.