A North Carolina boy received an unplanned two-day break from school, not because he was sick, or because he got caught fighting, but because he thought one of his teachers was cute.
Nine-year-old Emanyea Lockett was suspended from his Gaston County elementary school after a substitute teacher overheard the boy saying another teacher was cute. After the teacher heard Emanyea’s compliment, he was called into the office and sent home for “inappropriate” language and sexual harassment.
Emanyea’s mother, Chiquita Lockett, said she could understand the harsh punishment had her son touched the teacher, but he didn’t.
“It’s not like he went up to the woman and tried to grab her or touch her in a sexual way,” Lockett said. “So why would he be suspended for two days?”
According to WSOCTV, a local station, “School officials said in addition to the comment about the teacher, Emanyea had been warned about calling students bad words. They said all of the comments are inappropriate and violate the student code of conduct.”
Emanyea denies calling other students names and his mother wonders why the school never informed her of the other alleged incidents before the suspension.
“What’s in that letter, what they accuse him about — if that’s true, I should have been notified about it,” Chiquita Lockett said. “And if so, then I would have seen where a suspension would have taken place.”
Emanyea isn’t the first child to be accused of sexual harassment lately. Just this week, a first grader was kicked out of school for sexual harassment and sexual assault after he allegedly kicked another boy he claims choked him and stole his gloves in the groin. While fighting is never the answer, I’m hard pressed to see how either of these cases amounts to sexual harassment.
While children are growing up faster these days, turning everyday, natural behavior–such as crushing on your teacher or fighting back against a bully–into a sex crime isn’t the answer. Instead, school officials should use these incidents as teachable moments about how to treat others with respect, rather than projecting adult issues onto children.
What do you think? Is calling a teacher cute sexual harassment or did the school overreact?