School Climate & Safety

True Love’s First Kiss (Lands a Suspension)

By Ross Brenneman — December 12, 2013 1 min read
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Lincoln School of Science & Technology, in Cañon City, Colo., suspended a six-year-old Colorado boy last week for kissing the hand of a girl in his class. The charge? Sexual harassment.

On Dec. 4, Hunter Yelton reached over and kissed his classmate’s hand, at which point fellow students told the teacher. (In total violation of being cool.) The school called Yelton’s mother, Jennifer Saunders, into the building to tell her that Hunter would be suspended and that his record would reflect sexual harassment.

Some thought the incident was a case of school discipline going too far, but the school said its actions were justified.

The girl’s mother did not initially comment on the incident, but on Facebook noted she was happy the school took action against Hunter. This was not, apparently, the first time Hunter had kissed the girl—previously, he kissed her on the cheek, and perhaps other times—and he’s been suspended for roughhousing. In a statement to the Canon City Daily Record, Lincoln Principal Tammy DeWolfe said the school took action due to Hunter’s long record, not just this one incident.

Saunders nevertheless objected to the charge of sexual harassment, saying her son did not even understand the meaning of “sexual.” In response to Saunders’ unhappiness, the school today announced it would lessen the charge yesterday to “misconduct.” (Kissconduct?)

For his part, Hunter claimed to just have “a lot of energy":

It’s not clear, despite Saunders’ suggestion, that the girl actually was fine with it—her mother seems to think otherwise.

"[W]hy do the other kids rush to tell? Because they’ve seen it over and over, they’ve seen him repeatedly get in trouble for it, they’ve seen the girl repeatedly tell him to stop, they know it’s wrong,” she said.

So on the one side, you have those who worry about the discipline was overly harsh. And on the other side, you can see why someone would be concerned that a male child repeatedly touched a girl inappropriately, even if he’s only six.

Kissing: The worst thing since hugging.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.