Not OK: This 9 year old is facing harassment charges for a completely innocent love note
Giving and receiving notes is an important part of childhood. It’s a great way for kids to stay connected to their friends throughout the busy school day, practice their writing skills and communicate their feelings in a healthy way. Because let’s be honest, as they’re figuring themselves out, kids can be a little awkward. So writing notes to each other is a super safe and easy way to communicate. And if we’re really being honest, it’s easier for adults too (in fact, we do it every day, just in a different way via texts, emails and opinionated Internet comments).
But for one 9-year-old boy in Tampa, writing notes is no longer safe for him. The unnamed boy (for privacy reasons) was disciplined by the school principal and threatened with legal action — all for writing an “unwanted” love note to a classmate, according to his mom.
The innocent missive featured messages such as “I like you” inside a heart and “Your eyes sparkle like diamonds”.
His mom told WPTV that a principal in the Hillsborough County Public School District let her know the note wasn’t appropriate and the school would be filing sexual harassment charges against her son if he writes another one. “What little kid doesn’t write love notes?” his mom asked.
Naturally, the young boy was confused as to what he did wrong. “My 9-year-old doesn’t even know what sexual harassment means.” She added that her son is now being teased for writing the note expressing his feelings.
According to the school, the boy wrote more than one note, and they were unwanted by the girl. We totally get that affection and attention can be unwanted and if this little girl wants this boy to stop, he should ABSOLUTELY quit it. But the punishment doesn’t seem to fit the crime. If notes are unwanted, asking them stop seems like a solid first step. If that doesn’t work, then having a serious talk with the principal and the kid’s parents seems way more appropriate than filing sexual harassment charges against a 9-year-old.
Dr. Valerie McClain, a licensed psychologist in Tampa, told ABC Action News that she doesn’t believe this was a case of sexual harassment, but a good opportunity for parents to talk to their kids about boundaries.
“It may be something he thought was very sweet and innocent. What needs to happen is education needs to be provided about how to relate to this young girl or how to stay away from talking to her, if that’s the goal,” McClain said.
We hope the school can resolve this without getting the police involved, and use it as an important learning opportunity for all the students without singling out any specific child.
(Featured image via Twitter)