Zero Tollerance Folly

Today's "school officials accuse five-year-old of sexual harassment" incident is brought to you by Hagerstown, Maryland.

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  • ||

    The regularity with which this stupidity gets repeated makes me think the right-wingers have a point about not trusting schools to handle sex-ed in an age-appropriate manner.

    He's FIVE. WTF?

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    I can recall a few things that TWC should not have probably done that involved school and girls. Some of the offensive behavior dates back to about 4th grade. Several of the offenses would have gotten me expelled from school by today's standards.

  • M||

    It's spelled Hagerstown. (Though Hagar also knew a thing or two about harassment.)

  • ||

    Was this a headline from Fark?

  • ||

    Has the human race become infected by some virus that causes our brains to atrophy?

    Why are so many people voluntarily deciding to stop thinking, and instead handing over everyday decision making to personless systems of authority such as "state guidelines" and institutional "codes" of speech and conduct?

    Whatever happened to common sense?

    Land of the free and home of the brave? Or,
    land of the regulated and home of the fearful of thinking for themselves?

    The Age of Enlightenment is long past.
    What do you call this current age?

  • ||

    She described the incident as a "learning opportunity."

    Indeed.

  • ||

    Chalk another one up to the greatest American, socialist institution. I think these "educators" are just horrible people and I do not understand why people deal with public "education".

    Regards,
    TDL

  • ||

    "Learning opportunity"

    Yes, indeed. It's good to learn, at a young age, that some people are simply jackasses.

  • ||

    Yes, go ahead and install a shame and fear in the boy for making physical contact with another human being. I'm sure that will turn him into a well adjusted kid later in life.

    Asshats.

  • ||

    Maybe the real "learning opportunity" was the chance to tell a young boy that it's not appropriate to touch a young girl in that manner and to avoid such behavior in the future.

    One would think that the point of education is supposed to be that you have an opportunity to train for the real world without consequences for making mistakes that would be more costly had they occured in the real world. Maybe somebody should let the MD Dept of Ed in on the secret...

  • ||

    Well, what was she wearing?

    May have been asking for it.

  • ||

    Reason 14 why I send my kids to private school.

    Every time I hear about one of these stories it breaks my heart. That these fools are so oblivious to the damage they do is mindboggling. And to think they went to college ostensibly to do some good in the world.

    Either...

    1. Education classes were easier than math, science or accounting or...

    2. They desired a college education that prepared their mind with neither critical thinking skills of a liberal arts degree or with technical skills that might command an impressive salary.

    What a waste. Across the board, on so many levels, a sheer pathetic waste.

  • ||

    During the 2005-06 school year, 28 kindergarten students in Maryland were suspended for sex offenses, including sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual activity, according to state data. Fifteen of those suspensions were for sexual harassment.


    Wow. Is it just me, or are kindergarteners getting really tough these days? I'd hate to run into one in a dark alley, that's for sure.

  • ||

    That's hot.

  • ||

    Dear Madpad:

    When I got my teaching credential, we had a saying, "Those who can't, teach. Those who can't teach, teach teachers."

    People who end up in those positions, don't have enough common sense to handle classroom teaching.

  • ||

    "Either...

    1. Education classes were easier than math, science or accounting or...

    2. They desired a college education that prepared their mind with neither critical thinking skills of a liberal arts degree or with technical skills that might command an impressive salary."

    The education industry is starting to catch on to the notion that a degree in education does not necessarily make one an effective teacher. A degree in the SUBJECT one teaches tend to make one an effective teacher. But how does one get a degree in "Kindergarten?" I think it is by being a parent/older sibling/aunt/uncle etc. By being around kids and seeing the silly stuff they do, you learn how to separate the innocent acts from the stupid or the intentionally hurtful acts - yes, at four and five, kids learn how to be intentionally hurtful. Unfortunate but true.

    But intentionally sexually harassing someone? IIRC, whenever I would make inappropriate contact with another person, my mom would firmly but gently point out that it is not polite to touch other people that way. That was how my parents approached pretty much all behavior modification when I was growing up. Problem solved, no quasi-criminal records or offender registry needed.

    this story made my head hurt.

  • ||

    Sometimes I think I may have too much common sense to be a teacher. It is my intended profession. But I am not sure I will be able to sit idly by and stifle my pragmatism while the Asshats that Be mete out ridiculous justice.

  • Guy Montag||

    (Responding in true /. style, not reading the article)

    Ahem, not sure if this applies, but a teacher of very young students friend of mine was telling me last year that the boys would reach up and grab her breasts frequently. She taught 3rd grade or younger, don't remember exactly.

    She is also a bartender, so that is how I found out about it.

    When I was that age I had the thoughts but would not act, I suspect, due to some sort of forgotten discipline that I had as a child.

    From the way the children of cowple act these days, we can rule out discipline as any sort of factor in this behavior.

  • Xanthippas||

    Lord these people are ignorant. Look, here's there own definition for "sexual harassment":

    "...unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors and/or other inappropriate verbal, written or physical conduct of a sexual nature directed toward others."

    See a common theme there? I do. The "sexual" aspect of the behavior. And here's a definition of "sexual" from Merriam Webster: "of, relating to, or associated with sex."

    That's why this statement doesn't make any sense: "It's important to understand a child may not realize that what he or she is doing may be considered sexual harassment, but if it fits under the definition, then it is, under the state's guidelines," Mowen said. "If someone has been told this person does not want this type of touching, it doesn't matter if it's at work or at school, that's sexual harassment."

    No, no, no, no, no. If a kid pinches some other kid's butt, but it's harassment that is "of, or relating to, or associated with sex" then it is by definition, NOT "sexual harassment." In another words, even by THEIR OWN DEFINITION, this kid's behavior is only sexual harassment if it's sexual in nature. Which in this case, it's not.

    So their explanation is a load of baloney. And I'm sure they have a lawyer somewhere telling them that right now.

  • Bill||

    Joe,

    The regularity with which this stupidity gets repeated makes me think the right-wingers have a point about not trusting schools to handle sex-ed in an age-appropriate manner.

    Yes they do.They don't like much of what the State does anymore than libertarians.Unfortunately the expression of this belief is that the State should do something else more to their liking.Contrast with liberals who believe the State should do more of everything.

  • grylliade||

    Can I point out that "tolerance" has one "l"? :-)

  • Maurice Girodias||

    Balko, you forgot the Slashie!

    /Happy Holidays.

  • TCR||

    I think everyone here is being a little unfair to the school. I've been a teacher for about six years, and trust me, there's almost always more to the story than what you read in the paper. Look at what the article says: "Kindergartener suspended for pinching a girl's butt." Obviously that sounds outrageous, but there's a lot we don't know.

    Hypothetically, let's say this kid has a problem with pinching little girls on the butt. He'd not doing it once or twice, but all the time.

    The teacher is getting complaints from the girls and talks to the kid. He won't stop. The principal talks to the kid. He still won't stop. They give him "time-outs" and so on. He still won't stop.

    They talk to the kid's parents, who tell the teacher and principal to go fuck themselves. (This happens all the time. For instance here's a conversation I had with a parent a few weeks ago: Me: "Sir, your son punched another student in the face during fifth period today." Dad: "Go fuck yourself." True story.)

    Anyway, now the school is getting complaints from these girls' parents demanding that something be done. Maybe it goes to the Superintendent - shit goes up the plagpole pretty quick most of the time. So now what can the school do BUT suspend the kid? It's a no-win situation, but they decide they don't want to deal with it anymore, and they want to get a paper trail started on this kid so that legally they have a leg to stand on somewhere down the road when they get sued for letting a serial ass-pincher run free in the classroom.
    So they suspend him.

    After they do, the story gets out. Because the school is bound by confidentiality, none of this comes to light. Nothing's stopping the boy's parents from talking to the papers though, and of course they are going to play down what their kid's been doing and scream about how outrageous it is to suspend a five year old for sexual harassment. And now we're talking about what a bunch of jackasses are running this school on H&R, even though in all likelihood they're just hardworking people stuck in a situation with no upside and trying to do the best they can.

    Now I don't know that that's what happened in this case, but I've been in the field long enough to know that that's how stuff goes down ALL THE TIME.

    Sorry for the long post, but my point is that most people have not a clue what it's like to teach, but everybody thinks they can do a better job at it than the people who have made it their life's work.

  • ||

    TCR,
    "Obviously that sounds outrageous, but there's a lot we don't know."

    Granted, the whole story usually doesn't make it into print. BUT, even if your hypothesis were true, they didn't have to use "sexual harrassment" as the reason. "Disruptive behavior" would have worked just as well.

    They didn't, they're idiots.

  • ed||

    The pinched ass was bad enough, but he sealed his fate when he added, "You know you want it, biotch!"

  • ||

    I see this mostly as a chance to relate one more cute story about my sons, and their understanding of relationships between men and women. Aaron, who is in preschool, announced that he was going to marry his classmates Kathryn, Ellie, and Maggie. Andy, who had just turned eight, replied, "you can't do that Aaron. Some of them have to be your ex-wives."

    As to the actual subject of the post, the school overreacted, but I think TWC has a point. My general assumption about any "look at those idiots" story, especially one involving schools private or public, is that there is lots more information we don't get. That said, suspending the kid for "sexual harrassment" is just idiotic.

  • TCR||

    they didn't have to use "sexual harrassment" as the reason. "Disruptive behavior" would have worked just as well.

    You make a good point. On the other hand, there are laws in place that say schools have to report sexual harassment as such and they were probably just covering their asses.

    Like I said, there's always a chance that this could end up in court at some point and they'd need to show that they complied with the law, which they did, even though you might not like the result.

    BTW, the penalty for NOT reporting sexual harassment is being fired (yes, even if you're tenured) and being permanently stripped of your credential. And that's not even counting the monetary judgements against you.

    A lot of the blame for this goes to politicians and activists who push for these laws to "protect the children." It puts teachers in a position where they have to do things they might not agree with.

  • TCR||

    FWIW, I think it's outrageous too. Especially in light of the stuff I see everyday that goes unpunished. My point is that you shouldn't be too quick to judge in these situations.

  • ||

    I think you make some good points, TCR. The zero-tolerance stuff isn't coming from the teachers and administrators, it comes from city hall and the state. Everything is a school system is dictated by official policy at this point. The is no allowance for people to make an independent decision because such decisions are actionable.

  • ||

    TCR
    So soes that mean if you have sex with a student in the NYC public schools (let's assume highschool otherwise it would be really disgusting)it may take several years to fire the unionized teacher. But if you see someone else do it and don't report it all bets are off and your out of there?

  • John M. Joy||

    Over at my martial arts instructor's forum, we have been discussing the "everything's about sex" meme infesting society as of late. (The context is the case of Jerome Hunt, a seventeen year old state champ wrestler from South Dakota, who is presently facing 21 counts of RAPE - each with a potential 25 year sentence - apparently over a well-known but admittedly somewhat infamous move known colloquially as the "oil check" - Google if you don't know / can't figure out what this means.)

    Link (to Ron's forum, and, from there, news coverage) is under my name, above.

    JMJ

  • ||

    TCR, I can see your hypothetical and I appreciate your experience.

    Despite my negative post regarding teacher education, I'm not prejudiced against educators.

    But accusing this child of "conduct of a sexual nature directed toward others" AND providing no satisfactory avenue for appeal.

    Per the article...

    School officials consider a student's age and the specific action when determining what administrative action to take, Mowen said.

    This appears to be a lie. A 5-year-old with no knowledge of sex is the wrong target for a saxual harrasment allegation.

    "Anytime a student touches another student inappropriately, it could be sexual harassment," Teach said.

    This appears to be a moronic (at best) understanding of sexual harrasment.

    You could be right, but from what I can see, the statements offered by the school officials telegraph none of that.

  • ||

    The education industry is starting to catch on to the notion that a degree in education does not necessarily make one an effective teacher. A degree in the SUBJECT one teaches tend to make one an effective teacher.

    I taught high school history for a short time, and I had both a degree in my subject and a masters of education. Prior to my teaching experience I would have agreed with this statement. However, in reality my teaching degree was far more useful in the classroom than my college degree. There are a lot of skills involved in teaching that an untrained person, no matter how knowledgeable in the subject matter, simply wouldn't know.

    Of course, in a perfect world all our teachers would have degrees in both. But given a choice, I'd rather my children had teachers who have been trained in how children learn; intelligent adults can learn enough subject matter in a short period of time to teach it to the kids.

    Of course, I'm assuming "intelligent." It should go without saying that stupid teachers are stupid teachers, regardless of what their degree is in.

  • ||

    John M Joy,

    Your post about Jerome Hunt was interesting. It appears the complaints come from his own teammates.

    As a former high school wrestler, while I think it's a bit over the top to accuse him of rape, the guy's a jerk. If you're a champion because you can jam your thumb up an opponent's bunghole, you deserve some level of scorn - especially if you've done it to your teammates in practice. 21 counts suggests it was one of his favorite tricks.

    But instead of filing charges, his teammates should have taken him aside and beat the shit out of him before breaking his thumbs.

  • TCR||

    So soes that mean if you have sex with a student in the NYC public schools (let's assume highschool otherwise it would be really disgusting)it may take several years to fire the unionized teacher. But if you see someone else do it and don't report it all bets are off and your out of there?

    I don't know if you're talking about a specific case, and I don't know what the NYC education system is like (I live in California) but I do have some personal experience with this.

    A former college roommate of mine who went, like me to be a middle school music teacher, was caught having sex with a student. The "affair" had been going on for almost a year, and by the time it came out she had moved on into High School (That's right, he had sex with a twelve year old girl).

    He was arrested AT SCHOOL, tried, convicted, and sentenced to prison for ten years (he'll end up serving four). He was immediately fired and stripped of his credential. The teacher's union rightly wanted nothing to do with him.

    So no, it doesn't take years to get rid of someone having sex with a kid. There's this idea out there that tenured teachers can't be fired for any reason. Not true.

    And by the way, what rock were you living under that you missed the half-dozen or so teacher-student sex scandals that came out this year? All those people were immediately fired too, but I guess you missed that.

  • John M. Joy||

    Madpad:

    Yup, for sure. But you have to admit it's a bit more than a LITTLE over the top to levy charges of rape, given the context. From what I can see (and, admittedly, I know none of the people involved, and can only go by what's been reported in the media), the whole thing was handled VERY badly.

    FWIW, we had a case here in Connecticut a few years back, in Trumbull. It was a very out-of-hand hazing case. The guys in question beat the crap out of teammates, hogtied them with tape, and, in at least one incident, shoved plastic cutlery up a teammate's behind. (I'm going from memory here, so take with number of grains necessary and proper, but) I believe the net results were a bunch of suspensions, and a few guys with criminal assault charges which (again, if memory serves) netted them a couple years of accelerated rehab. And this for actions that were completely, unarguably beyond the pale.

    My gist in Ron's forum, though, was that, specifics of the case aside, it seems like EVERYTHING in society, lately, is seen through the lens of sexuality. Thus, we have the "Wise Sages of Basketball" pronouncing "wrestlers are gay" (with a lot of heads nodding in concurrence) - and kindergarteners "sexually harassing" classmates.

    I mean, c'mon. Even Freud had to admit that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    JMJ

  • TCR||

    You could be right, but from what I can see, the statements offered by the school officials telegraph none of that.

    Madpad,

    I didn't see it in the article either, and if I didn't know better I wouldn't have thought anything more of it.

    But remember, the school is bound by confidentiality and can't really discuss the facts of the case with anyone other than the parents. What they are quoted as saying in the article is exactly the kind of boilerplate that they put out in this kind of situation because they can't say anything else. Notice that all the quotes come from the "spokesperson" who is probably in reality a high-level bureaucrat experienced in talking without saying anything. Again, its a CYA move.

  • ||

    Calling the 'butt pinching' sexual harassment is indeed idiotic.

    The policy under which this ocurred did not come from the teacher, or even the principal. Elected school board members develop and approve all school policies. I seriously doubt that the teacher involved referred the boy to the principal for 'sexual harassment'. If you want to blame someone, try the board members who are so afraid of even frivolous lawsuits that they produce idiotic policies. Or, perhaps you could blame the voters who continually elect such people to represent them.

  • RSDavis||

    The Age of Enlightenment is long past.
    What do you call this current age?


    The Dawn of the Dim.

    - R

  • RSDavis||

    Is there a difference between "Zero Tolerance" and "100% intolerance?"

    - R

  • M||

    On the other hand, there are laws in place that say schools have to report sexual harassment as such and they were probably just covering their asses.

    TCR wins the thread.

  • ||

    If you want to blame someone, try the board members who are so afraid of even frivolous lawsuits that they produce idiotic policies. Or, perhaps you could blame the voters who continually elect such people to represent them.

    Or you could just blame the public education system and the people who support it, because it's gotten so politicized that education necessarily takes a back seat to the administrative rules and regs and other bureacratic bs.

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