Six-year-old Hunter Yelton, a first grader at Lincoln School of Science & Technology in Canon City, Colorado, was recently suspended for kissing a girlin his class on the hand. Hunter spoke to KRDO Newschannel 13 and explained, "It was during class yeah. We were doing reading group and I leaned over and kissed her on the hand. That's what happened." The boy went on to take responsibility for what he did, "She sent me to the office, fair and square. I did something wrong and I feel sorry. I’ve been trying to be good at school."
Hunter got in trouble because his actions fit the elementary school’s definition of ‘sexual harassment.’ So now Little Hunter has a record with school district RE-1 as a sexual harassment offender.
It’s terminology that Hunter’s mother, Jennifer Saunders, felt was inappropriate saying, “'Sexual harassment.’ This is taking it to a, to an extreme that doesn't need to be met with a six-year-old. Now my son is asking questions, ‘What is sex mommy? It should not ever be said, ‘Sex,’ in a sentence with a six year old."
This is not Hunter’s first run in with the school authorities as he’s been suspended in the past for rough-housing and for kissing the same girl from this most recent incident, on the cheek. The female classmate and her parents have not come forward but according to Ms. Saunders, "She was fine with it, they are ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’. The other children saw it and went to the music teacher.” Hunter’s mom says that she has made efforts to work with her son on improving his classroom behavior by grounding him and giving him, “…very big restrictions.” It does seem like there have been discussions at home because the young man has his own articulate explanation for why he does what he does saying, “I just have a lot of energy. I mean six-year-olds. They have a lot of energy."
KRDO spoke to Dr. Sandy Wurtele , a child clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, who specializes in child sexual development. About Hunter kissing a classmate the psychologist said, “For most six-year-old boys, absolutely. That would be a normal behavior.” She was surprised by the suspension and thinks that the term ‘sexual harassment’ could be problematic for children. "I don't think a six-year-old would understand what harassment is…That has some longer term implications,” said Dr. Wurtele adding, “This part of development is just as important if not more than their academic subjects." Instead she suggested that this could be a teachable moment and should involve the students, their classmates and their parents so there wouldn’t be a negative stigma attached to the behavior. “Move away from that 'we don't do this' to in what situations is it acceptable?...You may have different rules of showing affection than you do maybe at home."
More info: KRDO