where is the freedom to be innocent?

This stock photo child is so embarrassed.

This stock photo child is so embarrassed.

When I was in grade 2, I embarrassed myself beyond my own understanding.

At the beginning of the school year, we had a unique desk setup. Four desks put together like a square. Four students facing each other while the teacher hovers and talks around us.

With assigned seating like that it was also the first time I’ve ever sat close to a girl.

For weeks it was nothing special, school as normal. The square got along, and I was a model student. I paid more attention to the school work than other kids, just because I’m quiet. That’s how I roll. But then my subconscious had a hidden agenda.

Stacey was the name of this girl I sat beside. I think early from grade 1 we got along, otherwise this wouldn’t be a story. It was the middle of class, and we were all quietly doing our homework.

I think I was trying to be funny at that moment, but sometimes humour doesn’t translate. I looked at her and quietly whispered, “I want to tell you a secret.”

“Ok, what?”

So I leaned in, having no idea what I was doing. No words were actually going to come out of my mouth. In that split second of telling her something, then revealing what it was… I kissed her on the cheek.

She screamed. The class was too busy to notice, so everyone became startled. Stacey launched herself out of her chair and ran to the teacher. She screamed out loud, “Michael kissed me!”

I buried my head into my desk. The other children laughing, the teacher trying not to. It was the first time I’ve ever been embarrassed about anything, and it was also the thing that kick-started my many years of getting bullied. Who knew that a sudden interest in girls would release another interest in ridicule.

I don’t regret it for a second, because I was just a child. But would you be able to imagine how life would end up for me, if the school suddenly accused me of sexual harassment? That’s what a 6 year old boy is now going to have to live with, after childish behavior in a Colorado grade school.

It’s that instance out of many that proves how strange it is, to be a child in this day and age. We already try to protect them as much as possible: Make sure everyone is a winner, start a war on bullying, suggest that our children grow up gender neutral, and even go as far as banning tag.

So why severly punish a child for being a child?

Because the girl told him to stop multiple times, and all he wanted to do is kiss her on the hand.

child-suit-reading-newspaperChildren do weird things all the time. They push, pull, be cute, get violent, If only because they’re developing. All that little boy knew is that he liked that girl enough to bug her, but the school felt the need to treat the little girl as though she was a victim. Even the girl’s mother is convinced that it was sexual harrasment.

That boy doesn’t know any better, but now he’s going to have that in the back of his mind while he grows up. At the age of six, asking his mother what sex is. The girl has an equal amount of ignorance, but that situation is also going to affect the way she is raised. As if she is now told to feel threatened whenever boys will be boys. 

The school held back on the accusation, but can you imagine what it would be like if it stuck? These two might grow up afraid of interacting with people, because their childish behavior was a serious offense.

So then imagine my experience in that scenario. Having an impulse to be an idiot and then be suddenly accused of sexual harassment by the school. What does that teach? If anything it raises children to be repressed. I already found out what happened when I did it. I learned that I shouldn’t have done it, and I never did it again for a pretty long time.

There’s a lot of adults out there already pushing the weirdest agenda of “what-to-dos”, and stories of these seem to pile up more and more every year. All that is fine when you’re adult, because you’ve hit an age where you already know better.

BUT, one thing you should never do is manipulate a childhood. Children, while developing, can tell the difference between right and wrong. Everything a child does, is a part of growing up. Punishing kids for being innocent and raising them in an environment where they’re safe from doing anything, does not fix problems that you seem to think exist…

It only creates more.

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