6-year-old suspended for kissing girl, accused of sexual harassment

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Hunter Yelton

By Kelly Wallace

Editor’s note: Kelly Wallace is CNN’s digital correspondent and editor-at-large covering family, career and life. Read her other columns and follow her reports at CNN Parents and on Twitter.

(CNN) — This is another one of those stories that seems absolutely hard to believe.

A 6-year-old boy near Colorado Springs, Colorado, was suspended from school for kissing a girl on the hand. You read that correctly.

“It was during class,” first-grader Hunter Yelton said in an interview with CNN affiliate KRDO. “We were doing reading group, and I leaned over and kissed her on the hand. That’s what happened.”

Not only did Hunter’s peck get him suspended from school, but the school accused him of sexual harassment, KRDO reported.

Hunter’s mom, Jennifer Saunders, is outraged.

“This is taking it to an extreme that doesn’t need to be met with a 6-year-old,” Saunders told KRDO. Now my son’s asking questions, ‘What is sex, mommy?'”

She said Hunter had problems at school before, getting suspended for rough-housing and for kissing the same girl on the cheek. The family has been working with him on “class disruptions” by grounding him and giving him “big restrictions,” Saunders said.

Robin Gooldy, the superintendent of Cañon City Schools, told KRDO that Hunter’s record will remain within the district and that his behavior fits the school policy description of sexual harassment, which includes unwanted touching.

“Our main interest in this is having the behavior stop because the story is not just about the student that was disciplined, it is also about the student receiving the unwanted advances,” Gooldy told HLN. “We have to think about both students in the situation.”

Saunders said the girl in question was “fine with it” because Hunter and the girl consider themselves “boyfriend and girlfriend.” She wants her son’s record cleared of anything suggesting sexual harassment.

“Remove it from his record,” she told KRDO. “I need to stand up and fight for him. I can’t just let that happen because it’s not the case. It’s not what happened at all.”

Hunter for his part said he feels “sorry” for doing something wrong and tries to be good in school.

“But I just have a lot of energy. Six-year-olds, they have a lot of energy,” Hunter said.

They sure do, and as a parent of a 6-year-old and a 7-year-old, an innocent peck on the cheek or on the hand seems as natural for kids this age as declarations of who they plan to marry.

They don’t know anything about sex or sexual harassment. So how on earth can they be accused of such behavior?

Reaction online to Hunter’s story has been swift, with the majority of commenters expressing pure outrage.

“The school probably traumatized the kid for life with that stupid move,” wrote Brenda Esselman on the Facebook page for “New Day.”

“Poor child, he’s (too) young to even know what sexual harassment is,” Ortencia Solis also wrote on Facebook.

“Another example of how we are now overreacting to something as simple as a childhood crush,” Benny Barboza wrote.

Eric Vetch, also on Facebook, said he kissed a girl when he was 6. His punishment? “I remember writing on the chalkboard ‘I will not kiss girls at school,’ and it was a private Christian school … go figure.”

On the other side, there are a small number of people voicing some support for the school’s actions.

“The kid shouldn’t go around kissing someone’s child. Because if it was my daughter, the parents and I would be talking. Let’s keep it real,” Russell M. Walker wrote on Facebook.

We clearly need to hear more from the school and the school’s district because this might turn out to be another case where the pressure to follow set school rules gets in the way of common sense.

We saw this recently with two other stories: the Long Island school heavily criticized for banning most ball playing and even requiring supervision of games of tag while the school yard was under construction, and in Boston, where a student who allegedly went to a party to drive a friend home who was drunk was suspended from playing on her school’s volleyball team.

What do you think about this latest case of a school taking a controversial stand? Do you think a 6-year-old should be suspended and accused of sexual harassment for kissing a girl on the hand? Let us know in the comments below.

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29 comments

  • Ddman

    I understand the point of view where parents don’t want other kids touching or kissing their own kids. That makes sense. But calling the kid on sexual harassment is waaaay too far.

  • alf564

    PLEASE, get those so called administrators out of education….it is this kind of lack of common sense and thought process that has the USA a third world country in education…PLEASE, FIRE THEM NOW !!!

  • Grant

    When I was six years old. My fiend and I kissed our teacher on the cheek because we had a crush on her. She should have been charged for letting us do it. Come to find out. My mom delivers her baby about 10 years later and the teacher tells my mom how cute she thought that was. Pretty sure the only thing going through mine and my friends head was to dare each other to kiss the cheek of out teacher. Nothing else.
    Ridiculous!!!! The school should be the ones getting punished for ruining this kids life now.

  • MJ Brewer

    I think the parents of the boy and girl should meet and discuss if both children were willing. If the little girl didn’t want it, it should be considered unwanted sexual advances, but if she was okay with it and thought it was sweet, it shouldn’t be considered anything more than a hug.

    When we set standards for our children to be afraid of showing emotions, can we really complain when they’re caught up in violent video games? Get real, people.

  • Taylor Richardson

    Wow…. Sexual Harrasment shouldn’t even have been considered, the kid is 6!!! He probably thinks the girl is cute so he kissed her hand!!! I kicked the ‘crippedl’ kid when I was seven for taking my spot in line and all I had to do was say I was sorry. Now that would be considered a death threat and discrimination of the ‘disabled’. This is retarded. These are children these kinds of things shouldn’t be in elementary schools….

    • ellen waldren

      another thing my daughter has the pretty princess girl that are very skinny try to bully her when this happens my daughter. Yells at them, she has been pulled to the side by the teacher and the teacher ask why she yelled at the girl. My daughter said no one will bully me I stand up for my self. Then she said all your going to do is make me stay after school once. The girl will never bother me again no one will bully me. Well not one person will try bullying her know in school again they know what they will get. My daughter never got bullied again after this happen twice.
      She never had to stay after school. Common sense.

  • Collette Fuhriman

    Outrageous, Disturbing and Ridiculous! Watch out now! They’ll be sending Child Protective Services along with an officer to find out if there is a problem in the home that is causing him to behave this way! Good job teacher and school for making this child seem guilty and feeling ashamed over an innocent kiss.You should win the School of The Year Award and Teacher of The Year award for stupidity!

  • ellen waldren

    I think this is not right could have sent him to the office and said this is a rule in the school. My son who is 19 know was said he was sexually harassment at the same age. He did nothing a girl in first grade always held his hand. The girls mom and I would have them play after school at each other houses. I suggest you go to the board of ed and take out the info from him file every year. about half way through the school year if happens that they keep putting it in his file. Get a lawyer to send a letter that if the info is ever back in his file one more time you will sue. Keep going back without calling and go in his file if you see it back in his file sue. I have another suggestion if you can afford it or situation will let you do it find a very small town. We moved to a small town with 100+ graduation classes. We did, and the rule make common sense not secular. Their are rule but proper rule common sense rules.

    • MJ Brewer

      Until we know if the little girl reciprocated from her own lips (not his mother’s) we do not know if these advances were welcome or not. Perhaps her complaining to the teacher was what brought it to the teacher’s attention, perhaps it wasn’t the first time, perhaps he bothers this little girl all day. If my daughter was continually pestered by a little boy, I would not be pleased at the school NOT stepping in, but suppose it was as welcome as a hug between children.

      This article does not give enough information for the public to make an informed decision.

  • Kelli

    How can an innocent 6 year old be held responsible for something he knows nothing about?? Sexual harassment? If it was close to April fools day, I would think this was a joke in poor taste. In order for it to be labeled sexual harassment, doesn’t someone have to be offended by it enough to report it? What kind of person is offended by a kiss on the hand between two young children?? What exactly do they see that would be in ANY way offensive or sexual in nature? They are teaching this little boy a lesson that he doesn’t need to learn at his tender age.
    I honestly cannot fathom this situation. The whole thing is completely ridiculous!

  • jenny

    Come on ppl this is so much in sane. A six yr old being labeled as a sexual
    predator not right at all. Mom keep fighting for your son

  • Alisa

    This is the MOST outrageous thing I have heard! He is an innocent who is being treated like a criminal! When I was in 1st and 2nd grade we would chase boys and kiss on the cheek or whatever all the time! This is ridiculous the principal or who ever made this call was completely in the wrong! The 2 kids could have been spoken with and explained that it was not appropriate and prob would have been the end of it!
    You go MOMMY! Stick up for that little man and DONT back down!

  • Nicole

    The kid is 6 years old, he is already having enough trouble as it is. I don’t think the schools calling is going to fix his future. It is believed once a child is labeled a trouble maker they will act on it. This kid did nothing wrong, 6 years old and still learning. It’s our job as adults to continue to teach them from right and wrong so they can be a better person.

    • MJ Brewer

      The question shouldn’t be whether he kissed her hand or not, it should be whether she wanted him to. If you were grocery shopping and someone you didn’t care for grabbed your hand and kissed it, would you want him to do it again, without recourse?

      The boy’s mother stated he was a boyfriend to the little girl, but we didn’t hear the girl’s opinion, or her mother’s. That should be what the deciding factor is, for no man should be able to hug, kiss, or anything else to another without her consent.

  • Tracy

    This has gone way too far. The policies are a mess and need to be rewrote by level headed people that have common sense. These policies are clearly goverment written. The six year could write better policies.

    • MJ Brewer

      Is no one taking into consideration what the little girl thinks, or if she even wanted it? Sure, his mother said she did, but did she really?

      Perhaps the girl wanted nothing to do with his affection. He should be allowed to do it anyway?

      Until we know both sides of the story, NO ONE should have an opinion.

  • JANET LIBMAN

    I HAVE BEEN HEARING SO MANY RIDICULOUS THINGS THAT SCHOOLS ARE DOING NOW THAT I AM REALLY GLAD THAT I AM DONE WITH THE WHOLE PUBLIC SCHOOL THING. IF I WERE RAISING KIDS NOW THEY WOULD DEFINITELY BE HOME SCHOOLED TO AVOID SUCH SILLY THINGS AS THIS. HOW MANY ADULTS REMEMBER HAVING THEIR FIRST CRUSH IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL? GETTING KISSED WAS AWESOME! REALLY? I FEEL SORRY FOR BOTH OF THE KIDS. THEY WILL HAVE ISSUES THE REST OF THEIR LIVES WITH HOW TO SHOW AFFECTION. PURE STUPIDITY. THERE WAS A GUY THAT SAID THAT IF IT WAS HIS DAUGHTER, HE WOULD BE TALKING TO THE PARENTS, WELL THAT IS WHERE THIS ALL BELONGS.

  • Joe Frank

    That I have to say is ridicules, because a child that young does not have the intelligents to know what they are doing, its just kissing a hand to the child, is it as bad as holding hands at that age, I myself would think that it would be very cute to see something like that, It shows caring and compassion something that we do not see as often in this day and age.

  • Ted

    I want to know, I think we have the RIGHT TO KNOW, the name of the idiot who made this decision. Nameless, faceless bureaucrats are constantly making and implementing stupid rules and are not held accountable to the public. I want this idiot’s name sprayed all over Facebook. I want him or her to not be able to show their face in public without everyone laughing and pointing “hey, there goes the village idiot!”

Comments are closed.