CANON CITY, Colo.—Officials at a Colorado school where a 6-year-old boy was suspended for kissing a girl dropped the term "sexual harassment" from the boy’s record, instead calling the behavior misconduct after his parents and the principal met to discuss the issue.
First-grader Hunter Yelton was given a two-day suspension, with a sexual harassment infraction on his discipline record. The boy’s mother, Jennifer Saunders, insisted the punishment was too harsh, and school officials agreed to reconsider.
The incident stems from when the boy kissed a female classmate on the cheek and later kissed the same girl on the hand.
The boy was placed on suspension for the first incident, his mother, Jennifer Saunders, told the Daily Record on Tuesday, and he was placed on a two-day suspension last week for the second infraction.
Both instances were originally categorized as sexual harassment.
The girl’s mother, Jade Masters-Ownbey, told the Canon City Daily Record that the school district did a great job protecting her daughter from repeated harassment from the boy.
First grader Hunter Yelton said that he has a crush on a girl at school and she likes him back.
"It was during class, yeah. We were doing reading group, and I leaned over and kissed her on the hand. That’s what happened," he said.
Saunders said she saw nothing wrong with her son’s display of affection. She said she punished him for other problems in school, including rough-housing. She was shocked when the school’s principal brought up the term "sexual harassment" during a meeting.
"This is taking it to an extreme that doesn’t need to be met with a six year old. Now my son is asking questions. ‘What is sex mommy?’ That should not ever be said, sex. Not in a sentence with a six year old," she said.
A child psychologist told KRDO that tough love in this case could have negative consequences. She said kissing is normal behavior for children of that age.
"For most 6-year-old boys, absolutely. That would be a normal behavior," said Sandy Wurtele, a child clinical psychologist who specializes in child sexual development and the prevention of childhood sexual abuse.
Wurtele said she was surprised to hear the school suspended him.
"That really gives mixed messages, negative messages to the kids," she said. "This part of development is just as important, if not more, than their academic subjects."
The boy’s suspension ended on Tuesday.