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Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Six Year Old Sex Offender

The "zero tolerance" policy at some school and in some states, reaches levels of complete incompetence when a 6 years gets written up as a sexual offender for copying what another kid did and playfully smacking little Katherine DeLeon on the bottom twice.
That is right, a six year old is being labeled a sex offender for smacking a girl on the bottom in a playful manner after seeing another child do the same.

For doing this, this child, Randy Castro, had the police called on him by Potomac View Elementary School, then they wrote him up for "Sexual Touching Against Student, Offensive", in their report.

The school website says it is located in Virginia but the news reports call it a Maryland school and their zero tolerance policy has managed to substitute the words of a policy from the actual thought processes of those in charge. (Video news report on this incident at that link)

An assistant director of the National Association of School Psychologists, Ted Feinberg, says he is "stunned" by the school's reaction to a child of six that has no concept of what those behaviors mean and he states, "I believe they do not have the capacity for awareness of sexual motivation … it seems like a gross mislabeling of the behavior and an overreaction."

Instead of telling the child that those actions and behavior is unacceptable, the school, instead, labels this six year old a sexual harasser and sexual offender.

Randy's mother, Claudia Castro, says, "When I hear 'mommy they called police because I am a bad boy,' that is the message that you're giving to a 6-year-old?"

Where is the common sense here?

Sure, it is appropriate to march the child into the principal's office and tell him in no uncertain terms that he cannot touch another child in that manner, so that later in life he doesn't continue thinking it is just a playful thing. Calling the police and putting a report in his permanent school record with an"Incident Code(s) for this perpetrator" of "SX2" or "Sexual Touching Against Student, Offensive, is beyond the realm of comprehension in my mind.

Where is the line drawn between zero tolerance and common sense?

When are school officials going to start using judgment instead of some generic general rule to decide a case on an individual basis?

Mark Steyn writes an opinion for the Orange County Register where he spotlights the fact that this isn't the first time that an overreaction has been perpetrated in the name of zero tolerance.

Randy Castro was not apprehended until he was 6, so who knows how long his reign of sexual terror lasted? Sixteen months ago, a school official in Texas accused a 4-year-old of sexual harassment after the boy was observed pressing his face into the breasts of a teacher's aide when he hugged her before boarding the school bus. Fortunately, the school took decisive action and suspended the sick freak.

By the way, is that the first recorded use in the history of the English language of the phrase "accused a 4-year-old of sexual harassment"? Well, it won't be the last: In the state of Maryland last year, 16 kindergartners were suspended for sexual harassment, as were three preschoolers.

Where does the line get drawn? When do school officials start being required to use their brains?

In what alternate reality do we live in where a six year old or a four year old are accused of being a sexual offender, simply because they are too young to understand their natural inclination to play and touch are wrong?

The zero tolerance policy was designed to protect children from drugs, weapons and sexual violence, not to label a six year old, or a four year old, as a sexual offender.