Parenting K-6 Kids/Swear words, sexual words and 8 year olds
QUESTION: Hi - My 8 year old daughter is in the 3rd grade. This past week she told me that 1 boy in her class drew a picture that he said was of her. She said that he drew a penis between her legs with an arrow pointing to her private area. She said that he made her look like a boy. This is how she interpreted this. I asked her if she still had the drawing and she said that she crumpled it up and threw it out. She asked me why she would keep such an embarrassing drawing. I did not over react. I validated her feelings of embarrassment and hugged her. Then, she drew the stick figure like the boy drew during recess. I reinforced that private areas are private and if she felt comfortable, it's ok to say that to her classmate that attempts to discuss,draw or anything about private areas. On other occasions: He also dared her to kiss him. He also took her girl doll and poked his finger between the dolls legs many times. This boy sits next to her in her classroom. Her teacher said that she will switch seats. this week is the cmt testing and I hope the teacher switched the seat. What else can I do? Also, there is another boy in her class that tried tickling her private area while waiting in line to go back to class after recess. This boy was spoken to as well. This was at the beginning of the year. She is trying to cope with a lot that is coming at her this year like this. Another boy on her bus that is also in her class hops up and down in his bus seat, making moaning noises ...my daughter just described this to me. The way she showed me is with pelvic thrusting moves. Seems that these boys are over sexualized or something. I am now picking my daughter up from school so she won't be exposed to this. She said that another boy said that he was doing something called, "tea bagging.' She asked me what it meant. I told her that they were making up things I think. Then, on my own, I looked this word up on the internet...this seems pornographic! I am very distraught and unhappy to know that my innocent daughter has been exposed to this. She cries over the swear words that she hears as well as the same boy on the bus told her that the f word means a man a woman lying naked in bed making a baby. He didn't say details from what my daughter told me. She told me this all within the past week. Please suggest a self help book for me as I didn't realize that this kind of thing happens at this age. The children are 8 and maybe 9 years old. The school begins the birds and bees talk in 5th grade. I don't want my daughter to hear about that in this manner. There is a lot of swear word discussions along with talk about the devil as well. This seems to be a very curious age - in the time that we live in - our children are exposed so young to grown up things. I look forward to your guidance. Thank you.
ANSWER: Hello D,
First of all, some of this behavior seems too sexualized for 8 or 9 year old boys, and if I were the teacher I'd report it. At the very least I'd ask the guidance counselor to meet with the boys. Further, I'd report the behavior in the class and on the bus to the principal. Your daughter should not have to change her life or be uncomfortable. It's up to the school to fix this. This is aggressive behavior and should be treated as such. And if the school doesn't adequately deal with it, I'd work my way up...superintendent, school board, DSS.
While children do have a preoccupation with body parts and such, this usually is bathroom humor and ends in the first or second grade. The behavior you're describing is beyond that and someone needs to step in.
There are some children's books that talk about good touch / bad touch that can help your daughter; although she seems to have a good grasp of what makes her uncomfortable and is okay in talking to you about it. I would encourage her to tell someone at school. If she doesn't want to tell the teacher, then she can tell the guidance counselor or principal.
These boys may or may not be victims themselves. If they are, then all the more reason to make sure someone addresses this. But even if they aren't, the definitely need to learn what's okay and not okay. By reporting this to the teacher and principal, hopefully they'll be able to do something.
Leslie Truex, MSW
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QUESTION: Thank you, Ms Truex. I did tell my daughter's teacher who told my daughter yesterday that the boy denied that he did this. The same day that he said to the teacher, he did the movement holding one of the display board support board legs. The teacher telling my daughter that the boy said that he did not do it, seems to have questioned my daughter. Earlier on, I sent an e-mail to the Principal with the names of the group of boys that ride the bus involved. This is a he said, she said kind of thing. What can be done in such circumstance? Today, a girl in my daughter's class told a group of girls during lunch that a boy in their class(she named his name) told her that he had a dream about her and told her that they were having sex. Nothing was described according to my daughter but I am so disturbed. I have not heard from the Principal and sent the e-mail yesterday. I have had no phone call follow up from her teacher. AND she is sitting next to a boy who at the beginning of the year said that he knew where she was ticklish and tried to 'tickle' her private area during recess line up. These boys are out of control in this class. My poor daughter and I wonder if the girl that said what the other boy said to her about his dream is telling her mother. Am I over reacting? My daughter is very upset. I am planning on calling the school tomorrow and asking to meet with /speak with the principal.
With gratitude for your support...
ANSWER: Hi D.
It's unfortunate in a "he said, she said" situation, that the victim is the one that gets the short end of the deal. Of course, we don't want to accuse a child of something he didn't do. But, children aren't going to own-up to something like that. Instead, the school should take the opportunity to either have a talk on good-touch/bad-touch in the classroom or have all the kids involved see the guidance counselor (individually) for this type of talk. If one of these kids actually touches your daughter, you could get law enforcement involved. So you need to stress to the school that while you understand that children can be children, this behavior is unacceptable, and you expect them to do something. Not doing anything because the child denies it only tells your daughter that her teacher and the school thinks she's a liar or isn't important.
Again, sometimes children do make stuff up or exaggerate, but what you're describing is detailed enough that something needs to happen. I would be interested in knowing if the class had a good touch/bad touch lesson, and students were encouraged to "tell" the teacher or other trusted adult (not in the group, but privately), if any other children would come forward.
BTW...go through and read your school's policies on bullying and sexual harassment (You should have gotten a manual at the beginning of the year). That way you have something to point to when you talk to the principal.
Leslie Truex, MSW
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QUESTION: Thank you, again, Ms Truex. I spoke with the Principal yesterday who said that the boy did admit doing what he did on the bus. The principal said that all was taken care of as he spoke with the boy's parents and the boy. However, he did mention that they are working on classroom placements for children for next year and will need to pay close attention to my daughter's placement. What was indicated to me was almost blaming my daughter indirectly for such incidences with the boys - as if she needs to ignore more/not pay attention. Again, this was said indirectly. I feel like this is like a rape victim being told, what did you do to make him do that to you. You know? I don't want such a reputation as if my daughter is being too sensitive or needs to ignore certain things. I will look for the handbook. I do know that our principal is vigilant and top notch. We are all human and sometimes with such human experiences, principals must deal with parents and children. I'm sure the boys' parents weren't happy -- everyone seems to say ...oh that's what boys do. Well, why should girls need to try to cope with such impulsive sexual oriented behavior during public school sessions? I don't think that dismissing this as boy stuff is ok. I think that a consequence needs to happen if boys or anyone does this kind of thing. Right now, my daughter is off the bus as I don't want her to be exposed. Now, the boy is kind of making fun of what he did during class, saying, what? to my daughter...then saying, "isn't this ok to do?" He gestures between his legs with his hands and acts like he's pulling his pants(in that area) with both hands. My daughter doesn't want to tell as she just did tell ...I'm worried about her going on the bus now. I think that the boy should be off the bus as a consequence for a week to remind him and his parents that he cannot do what he was doing or anything like that. Am I wrong to think this way? I think that it's backwards that my daughter is off the bus...you know? like..the wrong message...I believe in grace and forgiveness but I also believe that children learn with consequences...not harsh ones but consequences to learn from. Also, I don't want to be in the position where a wonderful principal is hearing me as if I'm telling him how to do his job. This isn't my place...I know that...I'm just looking out for my daughter as this is only the beginning years of growing up with these peers...
Squeaky wheel get the grease. Perhaps you could mention that you will talk to an attorney or maybe the police. If these were adults, there are laws. Unfortunately, the children-will-be-children reasoning seems to continue in people. But you don't have to let it. I'd make a stink. Yes it will be hard for your daughter, but explain to her that she doesn't and shouldn't put up with it. Is there video on the bus? Perhaps this boy's behavior is on tape. At the very least, there should be a discussion (ie the guidance counselor do a lesson) on this type of behavior, what kids should do if it happens to them and what will be done if kids do it.