If you want evidence of how out of control sexual harassment laws have gotten, look no further than the story of a 7-year-old Boston boy who's been accused of sexual assault for kicking a bully in the groin after he choked him and stole his gloves. This ridiculous tale provides a great opportunity to unleash a hearty online rant about the evils of liberalism — unless you stop to consider the facts.
Tasha Lynch of Dorechester, Mass. tells the Boston Globe that on November 22, her son Mark Curran came off the school bus and was nearly in tears. He told her that a classmate choked him and took his new gloves on the bus. Lynch asked the driver what he saw and he just "smiled and shrugged." The next day, Lynch had her 11-year-old son escort his brother to the principal's office to report the incident. She expected the school to have the two boys talk it out, but instead Curran was questioned. The paper reports:
Lynch said the boy later told her he was so rattled by the questioning he told school officials he started the fight.
"They didn't believe me,'' Mark said softly. "I didn't get my gloves back.''
Later that day, Lynch received a message from Mark's grandmother, telling her that school officials were trying to reach her. Lynch said she spoke with [interim school principal Leslie Gant], who told her the school had called the state Department of Children and Families to report the incident.
Gant said Mark confessed to punching the other boy in the groin, according to Lynch. But later Mark said he had kicked, not punched, the student.
"She said, ‘It doesn't matter who hit who first,' '' Lynch said. " ‘He said he hit him in the testicles. That's assault. That's sexual assault.'
"I said: ‘The kid choked my son first and that's called attempted murder. He said he couldn't breathe,' '' Lynch said.
Later Lynch received a letter saying her son could be suspended or transferred because he's been accused of "violating codes of discipline related to sexual harassment and endangering the physical safety of another student." A spokesman for the school district wouldn't comment on the case specifically, but said school employees are mandatory reporters when it comes to sexual harassment. The school has scheduled a hearing about the incident for tomorrow.
At first glance, the story is a prime example of how sexual harassment laws go too far. (Thanks a lot, feminists!) From Lynch's account, it's clear that her son was defending himself, and while kicking an attacker in the balls is assault, it clearly isn't sexual and is justified when someone is choking the life out of you. The problem is, we really have no idea what happened on the bus. As with most reports involving incidents at school, officials can't comment because minors are involved. Therefore the only account we have of the incident is what the boy reported to his mother, and what she told the Globe.
It's entirely possible that the fight went down exactly as Curran said, but the school has no way of knowing that. Readers come away from the story with the image of a boy kicking a bully in the groin, recognize that's not sexual harassment, then declare in the Globe's comment section that this is an assault on common sense committed by "lazy and cowardly administrators" who are "pathetic" and "sick." Yet, school officials are entirely right to consider the possibility of sexual harassment. A student came to the principal's office and said he started a fight with another boy on the bus and hit him in the testicles. If a student was walking up to girls an punching them in the chest and crotch, that would be sexual harassment.
If Lynch's account is right, both boys broke the school's code on assault, but not sexual harassment. However, school officials aren't saying the boy committed sexual harassment, they're just investigating the charges. Lynch was understandably upset about the school's unwillingness to protect her son from bullies, but she went to the Globe before administrators came to a conclusion over whether or not her son is guilty of sexual assault. Now there's an article in the paper that gives the impression that touchy-feely rules on things like sexual harassment and bullying are making school officials overreact when it comes to kids fighting. In reality, when kids report that someone hit them in the genitals or choked them, we want schools to thoroughly investigate both sides of the story. Ideally, rules on sexual harassment and bullying are going to make that happen, and help administrators come to a reasonable resolution.
First-Grader Accused Of Sexual Harassment [Boston Globe]
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