Perverted Kindergarteners?

Hi Readers — Got this note and had to vent. I am SO SICK of everyone thinking of everything in terms of perversion. It is a perverted way to think!! Here goes. — L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: This isn’t strictly a Free-Range issue perhaps, but it illustrates the nonsensical trend of treating inappropriate but harmless behavior with fear and suspicion.  The following is a quote from the training module that every parent who wishes to volunteer at our school must endure, even simply to serve cupcakes to a class.
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The policy of requiring training and background checks on all parents is odious in itself, discouraging parent involvement and wasting precious money which could be used for actually educating children, but the message the training conveys is even more sinister:

The first step to preventing sexual abuse between children is to know that it can and does happen.  It’s hard to believe that a group of kindergarteners would take turns urinating on the playground and daring each other to play “stinky butt.”  From then on, you will need to pay particular attention to these children, since you now have warning that they may be at risk for further inappropriate interactions.

Good grief, that is beyond ridiculous. First of all, it isn’t hard for me to believe that a group of kindergarteners would do such things.  I wouldn’t like it, but it doesn’t strike me as particularly dangerous or rare.  I could easily imagine such a story being related with exasperation and, yes, even humor.  But simply beginning the sentence with “It’s hard to believe…” leads the audience’s perspective to consider it something so outrageous as to warrant deep, dark concern.
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I don’t know what to say about the implications of the last sentence.  What next?  It chills me to think that a registry (lifelong?) for such deviant kindergarteners is not outside the realm of possibility.

Thank you again for providing a rowboat against the tide! — Noël in Houston

79 Responses

  1. What is “stinky butt”? I am unfamiliar with this game…

  2. Apparently you’ve never been to Florida. In the state of Florida, there is a 5yo registered sex offender. Because of the wording of the law, this little deviant is not allowed at playgrounds, school, or even McDonald’s. His crime you may ask? Looking up the dress of his 5yo classmate as she stood over him during nap time. This is not one of those urban legends, the story aired on 20/20. Think the kid would now be about 8 or 10 years old as this aired about 3 or so years ago.
    Our society is really messed up. Some days I think a private community on a private Island isn’t such a bad idea.

  3. OH the last part I forgot to add about the restrictions to the boy due to the wording of the law… He is also not allowed to be left alone at any time, as by technicality, he would then be left alone with a minor who he may harm.

  4. Florida is stupid. I am so glad that my husband did not get the job that he interviewed for there!

    I have to wonder why the emphasis is on the kids as perverts? Do they do any training to recognize kids who may be victims of abuse?

    And what about kids who are acting out what they see around them? When I lived in CA, my oldest son, a preschooler, needed speech therapy at a school for preschoolers with special needs. I also had a one year old, and because of stupid rules, he couldn’t play on the school equipment. So I walked down the road to a playground at an apartment complex. On the underside of the slide was a prostitution schedule, written by kids. It had things like 5 cents for a blow job, and other much more graphic things. The next time I came I brought acetone and cleaned it off. Did they understand what they were talking about? Maybe, maybe not. I remember kids telling jokes in 1st grade about a kid who walks in on the parents having sex and what they tell the kids to hide the fact that they were having sex. That was approximately 1972.

    In the “what a dirty mind you have” department….(where the rules in the article seems to come from)..When I was in college I worked at a large preschool. One afternoon I was cleaning inside while most of the kids were outside. I heard two boys in the bathroom talking. One said to the other “What are you doing in here?” “Just playing with my balls.” he replied. My jaw dropped, and I couldn’t go in, knowing that the two boys were 3. I told another teacher and she went in with a stern face. She came out laughing – one of the boys had brought in two playground balls and was bouncing them off the wall. At that point, I realized that kids are just kids, and my adult interpretations should not be put on kids.

  5. The more I think about the post, I have to wonder…society wants to protect our kids because they are kids. But at the same time they want them to act with all the sense and knowledge, and thought of an adult? Seems like you can’t have it both ways there….

  6. oh my goodness, kids by nature are curious! My kids go potty outside all the time, and chase each other around calling each other stinky butt (and *gasp* have even pulled each other’s pants down in a joking way on an ocassion or two); should i be worried that they are perverted? That’s just crazy! Ofcourse when a child says ‘I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours’ this may be a time to step in and discuss whit the children how that is innappropriate and we don’t show each other our private parts. But to say they are at risk for further inappropriate interactions and should be watched or accused of sexual abuse… ludicrous!

  7. Sounds like this TSA pat-down of a 3 year old http://vimeo.com/16865565

  8. When my now 14 year old son was in first grade he got caught misbehaving in the bathroom with two other classmates. They were running, yelling AND pinching each others butts. The teacher caught them and gave them a good talking to and had them sit out the next recess. She did not mention it to any parents as she felt it was normal, stupid kid misbehavior.
    One boy told his mom about it and she went crazy. She claimed her kid was molested and wanted my son expelled. When the school refused, she wanted him evaluated by the psychologist as he was a disturbed and perverted child. She warned other parents that he was dangerous!
    For the rest of that school year the other boy would taunt my son and stick his butt in my son’s face. If my son told on him, he would retaliate by saying my kid touched his butt again.
    We had to have two meetings with the principal and several with his teacher. As the school year progressed they came to realize the other kid was making stuff up as my son never touched any other kid, while this boy was always getting himself in trouble and blaming it on other kids.

  9. If you have a constant problem with one child, there is a reason to look into it – but not because they’re an abuser, but because they might have been abused themselves! Sheesh, common sense much? (And then, they might not have been either. Children are strange creatures.)

  10. How do I submit a story to you Lenore?
    I can’t find a contact or submit button anywhere.

  11. Wait… It might be hard to believe that kindergarteners want to pee outside and play stinky butt? It would be harder to believe they DON’T.

    That’s why Captain Underpants are sooooo popular with boys who are fairly early readers. Boys love potty humor from an early age. Farts, poop, how far can I pee, hell we pay money (some of us) to buy targets to put into the toilet for our boys to hit, but when they go outside and pick their own target, they’re perverts?!

    And really… I’ll show you mine if you show me yours is inappropriate? Well, yeah, okay, probably… but that doesn’t mean that every. last. one. of. us. didn’t at some point play it. Because, ummmmm, kids do lots of inappropriate things. But because it didn’t used to be pathologized, but seen as normal kid stuff, we didn’t get all wacky over our sexuality. I still remember that… me and my godbrother. We were 4 and 5 or 5 and 6. He pulled his out, and I just laughed at him. It made no sense to me. I told him I’d have to stand on my head for him to see mine, and I didn’t know how to do that. End of story.

    Kids are curious. My grandson is sooooo confused. He thinks girls have penises on the inside of their body, because you have to have a penis to pee. Makes sense linguistically if you’re 4. He knows the correct terms for body parts, he knows girls don’t have penises, he’s just totally unclear on how peeing without a penis is even possible, so he’s figured out an explanation that he can wrap his little head around.

    Boys have forever had peeing contests. Even when they’re men, and talking big, we call it pissing contests. Because we know that’s a guy thing. It just simply is. I’ve never met a man who didn’t prefer to piss outside, nor a woman who wasn’t jealous of that ability, especially on long road trips. We have to wait, and wait, and hold it and hold it, and then the restroom is effing nasty. Guys get to just hop out, stand behind the car door, and never touch anything gross.

    Plus! Writing one’s name in the snow… come on! What girl doesn’t wish she could do that? That’s just cool.

    Poor kids. Even the simply joy of peeing outside, and making fart jokes are defining boys as dangerous offenders. Too sad.

  12. kiwiswiss – Lenore’s email address is on the Speaking Engagements page.

  13. Boys love potty humor from an early age.

    Not just boys, by a long shot. I have conversations with my three-year-old daughter about poop and pee all the time, and she jokes about it like she jokes about everything. I’ll bet parents are readier to shut down these kinds of jokes from girls, though, because “boys will be boys” but you never hear “girls will be girls”. Boo to that, I say.

    As a dad who believes in gender equality, I am happy to indulge my daughter’s fascination with the excretory side of life, particularly as my wife is much less tolerant about such topics.

  14. Lenore–by all means, feel free to vent. If anyone has the right to do so, it’s you–it’s your site, and you’re the one that receives this stuff from us who pass it along to you.

    You don’t even have time to run everything that’s sent to you, because there is so much of it you couldn’t possibly. I can only imagine how much venting you have to do with all you read which is sent to you.

    The whole “in this day & age”–the 5 dirty words which set me off–the whole mentality of “in this day & age you can’t be too careful” is just ludicrous. Do people REALLY believe that sometime in the last 15 years or so a switch magically flipped and the world became that much sicker instaneously?

    That is apparently what people believe. This occurred to me tonight, when I watched the movie “Bushwhacked” which was made in 1995. Around the 10 minute mark, the Daniel Lewis character steals a car, but a kid is in there, and he leaves the kid curbside. The kid was in the car by himself, with the keys in the ignition, while the mother went inside a shipping-packing place real quickly.

    My wife asked me “it was okay to do that then?” My response–no one thought anything of it.

    That’s the thing–when you ask people about it, they say “well in this day & age” (those 5 dirty words!!) “it’s too dangerous.” They NEVER say that it always was dangerous but we just failed to realize it–no, they actually assert that it was a perfectly safe thing to do then, but everything has changed that dramatically–since 1995!–to where it would be a horrible thing to do now but it was perfectly safe then.

    Oh, please.

    Same goes with this “sexual offenders” deal, especially when you’re so overly cautious as to be on the lookout for 5 year-olds–being sex offenders? Be still my beating heart.

    Lenore–no wonder you’re “so sick.” I just wish I had the magic pill for you, dear–all I can offer you is the comfort that there are lots of us out there who completely agree with you 100%. It’s totally understandable that you’re mad–you SHOULD be–but don’t be discouraged. We all are inspired by you more than you can ever know.

    LRH

  15. True true true that girls also love potty humor. My daughter did/does still at 20. And yes, many parents are quick to shut down girls. It does seem more prevalent with boys, but of course there’s no hard-and-fast with that.

    Oooooo… did you catch that pun? Sorry…

    My 5 year old niece loves potty humor too, and it is her dad that plays along with that. My own mother shut her boys down mighty quick too though, lemme tell you. She literally can’t say the word ‘fart’, and cannot for the life of her understand why you would teach a child to use the appropriate anatomy terms. She hates hearing little guys say ‘penis’ or girls to use ‘vagina’. She won’t say ‘boobs’ either. The woman is still ’60s through and through. She swears to make a sailor blush, but can’t deal with penis, vagina, burp, fart, clitoris…
    Fuck, shit, motherfucker… no problem at all. Go figure.

    I actually have heard ‘girls will be girls’ also. From my daughter’s middle school English teacher to whom she went to confide about bullying. She was the target of several girls with the gossip and rumors. What is called relational aggression, or using relationships to hurt, which girls excel at. The teacher called me in, told me I should help my daughter develop a thicker skin.
    “Girls will be girls. There’s really nothing we can do, and really no reason to be concerned. I’m sorry she feels hurt, but she really needs to learn to deal with it, and stop being so sensitive. That just makes her an easier target.”

    Very helpful, that. Very validating and empowering. Not sure my daughter ever trusted a teacher again. She never had a good year of school after 7th grade.

    She does have a very well-developed and somewhat crass sense of humor though. I’m pretty sure she can recite Pineapple Express…

  16. Do they send playground-urinating 5 year olds off to counselling? Good lord. Anyone who works with or has kids knows that this is completely normal behaviour.

    Last week a group of my 4 year old boys were weeing onto a patch of dirt. Apparently because I told them they couldn’t have anymore water (water restrictions!) to play with that day they decided to wee on the dirt to make their mud instead. Quite ingenious, if somewhat unsanitary if you ask me🙂

    We had to have a bit of a chat about hygiene, and look at other ways to solve their problem but at no stage did we think “oh no, potential pervert alert!”

  17. Doesn’t anyone worry that criminalizing children will actually turn them INTO sex offenders? I’m not saying this stuff is appropriate, but kids are going to do it, and I think our jobs as parents is to ensure that kids aren’t being victimized. I know looking back on my childhood, I did do things that made me uncomfortable, and it helped me set boundaries for myself and learn what is and isn’t appropriate. I don’t think I or anyone else should be arrested.

  18. You must have had to sit through the same presentation I just had to sit through last week when I was hired at the YMCA. Besides being thrilled for the job after two years of unemployment, having to watch this horrible, fear-mongering, ridiculous presentation left me furious! According to the “signs to watch out for,” I am a potential molester. AND, according to the signs a child will show if he’s being molested, I have been molested, lol. The whole idea that two kids being curious and playing around with each other is now perverted and molestation just floored me. I think back to play-kissing with a boy at preschool, pretending to have “sex” with a girl friend in 1st grade (laying on top of each other, lol) and other typical things most kids do that would now mark me as a child -aged child molester….I am all in a rage again, just thinking about it. I complained to my HR department, but they just said we all had to watch it for legal reasons. The craziest part, I don’t even work anywhere near children! I’m in a office. Ug! It just pisses me off so much!

  19. ‘It’s hard to believe that a group of kindergarteners would take turn urinating on the playground and daring each other to play “stinky butt.” ‘

    Actually, very few things are easier for me to believe.

    What I don’t believe is that whatever the game “stinky butt” entails, that these activities are warning signs of sexually abusive behavior.

    Now, I’m sure that sexual abuse between children DOES happen, and there ARE warning signs. But pissing contests between 5-year-olds probably are not.

  20. Young children have that “innocent Eden” mentality of their bodies. They have not yet learned to become embarrassed or guilty for such things. They have to LEARN that urinating in public is a social no-no. And stinky butt, I have no idea what that is but kids laugh at farts…next, they will be saying that the little girls who hang upsidedown on the money bars in a skirt will turn into little whores, so keep them in iron underwear and pants.

  21. Hard to believe…? It’s impossible to believe.

  22. I am very worried by this way of reading too much into children’s early behaviour concerning their sexual organs. The classic reference to this sort of behaviour in the playground in the UK, by the way, is ‘Playing doctors and nurses’! They are children! To them, they’re not ‘sexual organs’ – despite the moral panic these days, children young enough to play these games are probably not aware of sex, they’re funny, rude bits – yes, they may want to look at each other’s, or even touch them in a way that is utterly without any sexual reference. We sexualise these actions when we proscribe them and start imposing sanctions or labels of ‘unhealthy sexualisation’. A simple ‘These are our private parts, we don’t show them in the playground’ is enough response and enough detail at this stage.

    It’s a similar thing to reading ‘racism’ into a small child getting angry with their friend and making a comment about the colour of their skin. That child isn’t a ‘racist’ – they just don’t yet understand that what they’re doing is wrong.

  23. i have to polite disagree with the general outrage of training volunteers & staff members. I have been through several trainings on preventing child abuse …b/c of my line of work. I use to run 5 day camps…..& let me tell you…the predators are looking for places that won’t speak on this issue. They sit on-line & name organizations that won’t background check. Then there is the creepy stuff that has been going on since the dawn of time…and now we are aware of it & can use it to protect the children, the organization & yourself. Things like molesters will rub on children at water parks…well we were at the pool several times during the week…this is completely pertained to a supervisor’s job of someone entrusted with 200 children…Do no harm is a big motto when working with children……now they can choose to overact or take the knowledge pass it on in a calm manner.

  24. I have a son in kindergarten. Several months ago he was taking a bath and he had his hand on his penis. I jokingly admonished, “Are you playing with your penis?” He looked up at me very seriously and said, “Mommy, I like playing with my penis more than I like playing with my toys.”

    I thought it was the funniest thing ever and told several people about (all of whom seemed to think it was funny as well). Now I’m worried this story will be used against him in court if he is ever convicted of playing “stinky butt” or urinating outside.

  25. Its hard to believe that kindergartner’s want to urinate outside, in groups? REALLY?
    I can tell you from some experience that urinating, talking about urinating and wanting to urinate anywhere other than the bathroom is both extremely normal and extremely popular with small boys.
    What idiots wrote these guidelines?

  26. (Tracy) I will be polite, too–(a) the predators are not as predominant as you’re making it sound, that is one of the main points Lenore’s always making which leads to (b)yes, they’re there, but they’re not there in such large numbers that we need to run background checks on everyone who’s doing nothing more than, say, serving cupcakes at the school their own kids go to.

    You are correct, in my opinion, about one thing–“since the dawn of time,” because one of the main premises we believe in is that the number of said predators etc are not any higher now than before, we just know more about it–it’s just that, regardless, the numbers aren’t so huge as for us to need to overreact and have such a hardcore “guilty until proven innocent” stance that we’re taking in so many sectors of society today.

    LRH

  27. Tracy – I don’t think anyone’s suggesting that childcarers don’t talk about the issue of abuse or not watch for inappropriate behaviour. What (I think) we’re saying is that not all, in fact, probably very little, early behaviour or play associated with genitals is sexual in nature. I think almost anyone can remember playing these sorts of games, without having been exposed to any form of abuse or inappropriate material. It’s putting children at more risk, not less, to suggest that carers start putting energy into monitoring entirely normal, if (to adults) awkward, childhood play. Rather than blacklisting all such play as a potential sign of abuse, it would seem better to put resources into training on what would be beyond the norm and a real cause for concern.

    As was mentioned in one post here the other week, this is a case of just because some safety is good, ‘more safety’ isn’t necessarily better.

  28. Why is this country giving sexual thoughts to children? To a kindergartener a penis is equal to a leg (only more fun to play with). They are no more bothered by showing it than they are showing their leg. THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT SEX IS AT THAT AGE! Why would urinating in public indicate some perversion?

    This feeds into the pedophilia obsession as well. Since children are now viewed as sexual beings, parents automatically think that all strange adults must have a sexual interest in them.

    This week my 5 year old daughter was sitting on my lap naked while I ran her bath. She pointed at her vagina and said “boys have a tail here.” After laughing for a few minutes, I explained that it was called a penis. Now we are a mom and kid only family so there have been no penises seen in our house. She’s obviously seen one of her classmate’s at prek. I suppose that some parents would freak out and insist that the school kick out the little boy who I know frequently goes potty without shutting the bathroom door at school (and that is the name that she mentioned when we talked about where she saw a “tail.”) I just don’t see it as a big deal since she’s going to see a penis one day. Luckily her school is also not like whatever school this came from since my daughter and one of her little friends decided to play house and pretend to change each other’s diapers – by taking off pants – last year. Kids are kids.

  29. “He thinks girls have penises on the inside of their body, because you have to have a penis to pee.” Well, we do. It’s called a clitoris. We just don’t pee through it.

    I remember when I was about eight or nine a similar-aged boy on the school bus waved his willy in my general direction and said ‘Now you’re going to have a baby!’ I laughed at him.

  30. It’s sad that people have gotten so hysterical on the issue of sexual abuse of children that they cant’ see reason. It’s bad enough that adults get accused of being perverts for telling the little girl who wore her Princess costume to Target that she looks adorable or other such behavior. Adults can take it. If kids get accused of being perverts for doing things that they don’t even know are wrong yet, it’ll screw up the way they look at sex for the rest of their lives. Society already has an abundance of adults who are all screwed up about sex. We don’t need to actively make more.

  31. Some kids are victims of abuse, and go on to do horrible things either as children or as adults, though this hardly seems to be the case in this situation.

    Recently on my facebook a friend posted this story:
    http://www.edmontonsun.com/news/canada/2010/11/20/16242266.html
    about a teenager who abducted a 4yo. With it she made the comment: “Stories like this are why my son is not allowed to go to public washrooms alone. I feel so sad for this little girl.”

    I’ve struggled all morning with how to respond to this, since all of her other friends have made supporting comments… including a mother of a son older than 6 who is upset that the local pool will not allow her son in the womens change room.

    I finally settled on “Thank goodness these stories are so rare”, since I know that the story would have upset these already overprotective moms, and giving them the true statistics or telling them that they are overprotective would not have helped them change thier mind. Though I feel bad for the little boys who’s mom won’t let them go into the appropriate changerooms and/or washrooms.

  32. When I was ten years old I actually had a neighbor call the police on me and a young male friend ( who was the same age) for innocent playing. We were running through some bushes in a vacant lot between the apartments we lived in while playing Tarzan and Jane. My buddy jokingly kissed me on the lips ( a little peck), and went to take a wizz afterward as I looked out for other people who might come upon us being silly. Well the cops came to my school the next day ( it was a Monday they came as the incident happened on Saturday) and asked me all these ridiculous questions of if I knew what sex was. I was a smart kid who was taught by my family the proper words and other sex education, but I was embarrassed by being asked by cops if I gave my friend a “blow job” or if he “licked your pee-pee.” At this time I had no clue about oral sex as my mother didn’t feel it was appropriate at the time to explain it to me, so I actually had no idea what a blow job was, and said to the cops “licking a pee -pee is gross!”. I was quite worried about me and my friend winding up in Juvie because of some neighbor’s lying. Turns out that the neighbor who called the cops was getting revenge on the landlord ( my friend’s mother) as the neighbor was told that she was violating the no pets policy and got an eviction notice. She saw us goofing off in the bushes and made up the story to the cops that we were giving each other oral sex and making out in the lot.

    I shudder to think what would have happened if this incident took place in 2010 and not 1987.

  33. i remember boys chasing girls on the playground to try and kiss them. And vice versa. Were we all perverts?

    you are spot on. focusing on urinating playground antics and whatever the hell “stinky butt” is becomes far more sordid.

  34. This reminds me of when my kid brother was a preschooler. He was playing with the little boy next door and apparently they got the idea to look at each other’s privates. His mom was horrified and came over to share this disturbing information with my mom (who had 6 kids at that point). When my mom laughed it off by saying “all little boys do that,” Mrs. Shocked went home and told her child (in all seriousness) “you aren’t allowed to play at that house any more – there are demons in there!” (Note that the horrific incident happened at HER house, but whatever.) In case you’re wondering, my brother did not grow up to be a child molester, as far as I know.

  35. I think the Puritans were less uptight about sex than we are.

    My boys pee outside all the time because they are too lazy to go to the bathroom. Pretty soon owning a penis will be a sex offense.

    Bring back the men.

  36. Is it wrong that I used to give my kids “test tickles” hoping that they would tell teachers at the school just so I can cause a rukus?

  37. “test tickles” what are “test tickles?”

  38. Ugh.

  39. I’ve already commented, but yes this is so ridiculous. Certainly I doubt kids are inclined to think of any of this stuff sexually or to even know what it is. Heck, at age 15 (I’m almost 42 now), I myself thought a “blow job” was something you did to a car (was confusing it with a wax job). In Jr High, others picked on me asking me if I had ever “choked a chicken” & I reminisced about how as kids we’d help granddaddy choke the chickens at his farm before we’d kill them & cook them for eating.

    Those junior high boys died laughing at me, I seriously had no idea what was so funny, and I was 13 years old at the time.

    Yes that’s a very extreme example, after all the other 13 year-olds knew what “chicken choking” was, but my point is–I think we can give 3-4 year olds the benefit of the doubt in terms of not knowing what these things mean. (And Lenore, if I was too graphic, I apologize, I wasn’t trying to be offensive or lewd, but after seeing some of the other posts it seemed okay to me to do so.)

    LRH

  40. @Larry Harrison Because of that incident my mother had to sit me down and explain things that she didn’t feel like I really needed to know at the age of ten. My grandmother was livid that the cops had asked such a question to a ten year old in the first place, especially when a child’s parent (s) aren’t present.

    In community college I took a sexual psychology class, and one time our professor even said he was sick of normal, mischievous childhood behavior being pathologicalized by society. His four year old nephew flirted with ladies but he saw it as his nephew imitating his uncle and dad and pretending to be a grown up. However, he said he had to explain to his nephew not to flirt with the little girls at his preschool ( he explained to his nephew that at school his focus needs to be on learning and playing) because he was worried that the teachers might take it as a sign that his nephew would grow up to be a sex offender.

  41. It is appalling to me in a different way that while the normal behavior of normal children is viewed with suspicion, at the same time now we are expected to tolerate strangers at the airport groping our children, and letting the children see that they are also groping other children and adults. Talk about truly perverted! And no, I do not think that this is necessary from a security standpoint.

  42. From a mom who can’t volunteer at her child’s school because I refuse, on the basis of principal, to subject myself to a background check because of it’s cost, time consumption, and complete insanity, Tracy, I disagree with you.

    Background checks and training are NOT necessary for a parent to come in and cut snowflakes with their children and their classmates. This is ridiculous and pathetic, and has done NOTHING to prevent this so-called rampant child abuse going on on every corner and behind every bush.

    Lenore, I love ya.

  43. “I love playing with my penis more than I love playing with my toys.”

    How completely whimsical and 5 year old boy is that? I love it. Reminds me of my grandson last year, when he was going on 4, standing at the fridge with the door open, in his jammies, holding his stuff as though needing to pee. I said to him, “Do you need to pee? You’re holding yourself…” His response was a withering look and, “No, Gramma. I’m holding my penis to think.”

    A good friend commented that he was such a smart boy, he already knew where his brain would someday live.

  44. If I saw “it’s hard to believe” on a statement like this, I’d start a petition for replacement of the administrator involved — clearly they know nothing about child development and have no place in overseeing education of kindergardeners….

  45. Actually there have been a lot of incidents like this:

    http://www.oncefallen.com/CriminalizingTeenSex.html

    In Iowa, a sixteen-year-old boy meets another teen and they date and have sex; turns out the girl was only
    13, and the teen finds himself on a sex offender registry [1]. In Oregon, two thirteen year old boys faced 10
    years and life on the sex offender registry for participating in “slap butt day,” a common form of horseplay at the school; the district had prosecuted other children for sexual harassment in similar cases [2]. In Florida, two teens were convicted of child porn for taking racy pictures of themselves [3]. The Utah Supreme Court recently ruled on a case in which a 13 year old girl was charged as both victim of a sex crime and a perpetrator for having consensual sex with her 12-year-old boyfriend [4]. These cases are merely the tip of the ice burg in a society obsessed with punishing sex offenders…

    Children as young as pre-school students have faced severe penalties for “inappropriate sexual behaviors.” The Virginia Department of Education reported in 2007, 255 elementary students were suspended for offensive sexual touching; the Maryland Department of Education reported 166 elementary students were suspended for sexual harassment. These suspensions add a permanent mark on the child’s school records [10].

  46. I would have thought that kindergarteners urinating on the playground would be more of a health issue, rather than anything close to sexual abuse…
    Come to think of it, making small children aware of their genitals as such, when they’re too young to grasp the subtle difference in concepts such as “intimacy” vs. “secret” or “embarrassment” vs. “shame”, is bound to make things worse if sexual abuse really does happen.
    But how should I know? I’m no expert, right?

  47. Things like urinating outside or being curious about a classmate’s anatomy are completely normal behavior that have to be dealt with appropriately by teachers and other adults–without shaming the child, explaining that it’s inappropriate and we don’t do that at school.

    What really concerns me is treating a young child who is legitimately sexually acting out, or exhibiting inappropriate sexual knowledge, as a sex offender, rather than as a victim.

    Also, if I could get a copy of the rule book for “stinky butt” emailed to me, that would be great.

  48. This is the most outragious thing I have heard. Have these people ever been around children especially boys. The push the limits. They need ot be taught without adults freaking out and making an issue out of nothing. Young boys urinating on the play ground gets this over reaction. What have we become as a society? Where does this end? How do we turn back toward sanity.

    This fight for free-range must not stop until we win.

  49. I guess part of reading this site is learning our own personal boundaries. I submit to background checks for work, for getting on a plane and I ask for them when I hire childcare workers or other employees. I also expect businesses to do them on their employees especially if they are working in my home or my children are entrusted in their care.

    I look it as a prudent check mark. Often I feel like people find that it is an unnecessary invasion of privacy and I understand that it can seem extreme. In the very unlikely event that something were to occur with a worker and a child, and not just sexually, I would not like to find out that the school/business (whatever) did not perform a simple background check. As an employee submitting to these checks I would also expect volunteers to have a similar profile done in the interest of fairness and because the simple act of making a child does not mean you have a clean history. Not performing due diligence is an invitation to litigation.

  50. This is totally absurd!

    Also: I am very active in both my school kids’ schools — but I tell you, if I had to go through a background check just in order to hand out cupcakes, I’d immediately drop all my activities (and they are a lot). Either you trust me or you don’t — and if you don’t, your problem, not mine.

    So long,
    Corinna

  51. Matt, it’s NOT “prudent”. Parents are not a danger while coloring pictures at school with children. Period.

    It’s a fearmongering campaign that has clearly made many people buy into it. It’s a false sense of security – because the school is already secure. It costs money, it takes valuable resources and time, and it’s completely unnecessary. Period. I do not look at it as “necessary” in any way shape or form.

    Besides that, Uncle Bob (who is statistically the one most likely to have inappropriate relations with MY child, not YOURS) probably doesn’t even have a record.

  52. @Joie: a “test tickle” is when I start to tickle my kids then . . . stop. But the fact that it sounds like “testicle” and would likely set off alarms at the schools tickled me.

    I like the schools that my kids go to but they need a taste of reality once in a while to illustrate how crazy they have become. Reality in this case would be them making a huge deal out of something innocent.

  53. Sandra – I think the issue goes beyond sexual assaults – I am sure we are creative enough to come up with other scenarios of child abuse. And no, nothing is likely to happen in pretty much 99% of situations.

    I agree that there is a limited amount of information that is actually useful from a background check. Sure, it can breed a false sense of security, but I don’t rest easy at night because I performed a background check on the nanny, I do, however, feel that I have taken a reasonable step to know who I am dealing with and will keep ears and eyes open to know what is going on in my child’s life.

    I wouldn’t be comfortable with my child sitting down to color with the dad with rage issues that beat up a bartender. I would want to know if the school was aware of it and had taken this into account when assigning him. I don’t think he should be barred from his kids’ school, just maybe make sure that there was another dad nearby and he was going to his therapist. Maybe that’s me not being a true freeranger – I don’t fear for something happening to my child, I’d prefer the heavier stuff be kept out of kindergarten.

  54. “Background checks and training are NOT necessary for a parent to come in and cut snowflakes with their children and their classmates”

    Agreed, but is this really required at your school? It’s not at any school in my area that I know of. I’ve gone in to do reading and other such things at my kids school, and no one ever had me fill out a single form or do anything at all, other than check in and get a guest sticker at the front office before going to the class room. That’s nonsense if it is required. They must not get a lot of classroom volunteers.

    “pretending to have ‘sex’ with a girl friend in 1st grade (laying on top of each other, lol) and other typical things most kids do”

    Is this really a typical thing most 1st graders do? I don’t think I’d even heard of sex in the first grade, let alone thought to pretend to engage in it. I look at my first grader and, if another girl friend of hers suggested “pretending to have sex,” I would be concerned about that little girl and why and how she was, at such a young age, frequently enough exposed to the concept of “sex” by lying on top of someone as to want to pretend to do it. I mean, kids tend to “pretend” to do things they’ve seen done quite a bit (cooking, shopping, teaching, diapering babies, etc.), or heard about being done quite a bit (in stories or TV shows). I don’t think I would regard this as particularly normal behavior. Kindergarten boys wanting to pee outside? I’ve seen that plenty. Kindergarteners calling each other “stinky butt” and “poopy head”? I’ve seen that plenty too. But first graders pretending to have sex? I’ve yet to see it among my children or any of their friends. And if I did, I think it probably would raise a feeling of caution and concern in me on behalf of the child who suggested pretending it. Kissing or pretending to kiss would seem normal to me, as kids would presumably have seen their parents or other adults kiss regularly, but pretending to have sex at 6 years old? Where does that come from?

  55. The presumption in the quoted article is that “normal” sexuality is naturally not only turned off until puberty, but naturally ring fenced in the mind of children so that urine, faeces, recta etc. are marked “Sexual! Do not open until granted permission! If ever!”

    It’s something some kids will do, and if noticed by adults, probably shouldn’t lead to anything more “serious” than “Hey! DON’T DO THAT!”

    Because that’s how they, you know, learn not to do it.

    Typifying such play as “sexually disturbing” is imposing an adult view of sexuality… and will probably lead to with hunts for “whoever is teaching these kids to do these things.”

    And we’ve got day care centre managers being arrested for “hanging kids over the sharks in the swimming pool in the basement that doesn’t exist.”

    Again.

    Also: background checks. Read up on “security theatre”.

  56. “I wouldn’t be comfortable with my child sitting down to color with the dad with rage issues that beat up a bartender. ”

    I don’t know what kind of background checks you get in your state but ours certainly don’t give that level of detail. A background check might show that a dad was convicted of battery but you know don’t know whether that was a mild-mannered man who responded physically in a certain situation or a man with rage issues or if he was even guilty at all (as opposed to pleading guilty to false charges brought by a vindictive ex-wife to avoid going to trial and possibly jail).

    Further, criminal background checks are frequently WRONG. Many of my clients have convictions that don’t exist on their criminal history. I had one guy whose criminal history was missing something like 8 prior felonies. I don’t know what happened but they didn’t appear on his history. And we get the top-of-the-line law enforcement criminal history. Churches, private enities, employers, schools, etc. are entitled to less information.

  57. We have a saying in Australia, “It’s not a pissing contest”. Meaning this is not something to be competitive about. Where does the saying come from. Well, generations of Australian boys who challenge each other to see how high up the wall they can urinate.
    Also, unable to find a link quickly, but recently reported in news in Queensland of a school who suspended children for ‘too much hugging’. Parents interviewed were strongly in support of the children. I think the teacher and principal who ordered the suspension may have been exasperated by a couple of distracted and distracting children in a classroom, but the inability to deal with classroom behaviour in another manner seems extraordinary in this day when other schools seem quite cappable.

  58. oops, pardon the typo ‘capable’

  59. There are cases of child sex offenders (not consensual exploration, but actually abusing a more vulnerable child). It’s disturbing, it’s rare, and it is usually associated with the child either having a severe mental illness/personality disorder OR having experienced abuse. The kids need to be handled as patients and victims, not as criminals.

    Having said that, as an abuse survivor, it drives me insane when we label stuff abuse that just isn’t abuse. Kids playing disgusting games isn’t abuse. Kids looking at and touching other children’s genitalia isn’t abuse 99.9999% of the time. For abuse to occur their must be force, coercion or a power differential. And even then, when it’s kids who are doing it, you don’t punish them- you help them deal with whatever is causing the behavior.

  60. @ Sky–

    Your mileage may vary, of course, but my kids have attended school in three different districts in two states and I had to submit to a background check (including filling out a form with every piece of info someone would need to steal my identity–name, maiden name, DOB, SSN, present and former addresses) in each instance, in order to volunteer.

    However–I did fight back against the insanity a little bit when I was the president of our school’s PTO and admin requested that I verify that each of our volunteers had a current background check on file. Yeah, no. I politely refused. Win one for common sense!

  61. Donna, we had a specific case and got more info outside of the check but the check was the first step. Not perfect but nice to know. I have nothing to hide so I have no problem with the checks.

  62. Ah, the halcyon days of stinky butt.

    Anyway, I remember playing doctor, naked robber and such all the time (with both sexes) as a kid, I even remember playing something like “Stinky Butt”..though i’m not gonna describe it lol!

    I guess i’m pretty much of the opinion that it’s a normal part of human development.

    It may seem ghastly when we think about our own kids doing it, but if most people here are honest I think they would cotton to the fact that many of us did the same stuff and turned out ok.

    Kids are gonna be curious and do that kind of stuff, it strikes me as very puritanical (and divorced from reality) that some people and institutions treat it like budding sexual deviancy.

  63. P.S. To Matt:

    “I have nothing to hide so i’m ok with X” is NEVER a good argument for anything.

  64. I’m speechless. I’m wondering if all these people; teachers, principals, school board members, mayor, governor, etc… have all gone through rigorous background checks as well? Hey, if priests, presidents, and doctors have been caught with their pants down (literally), any of these no it alls are now exception. These are the people who “watch” over our children and pass these ridiculous rules/laws, in the name of protecting our children. Again, more and more, people are using common sense less and less.

    Ok. So I wasn’t that speechless. lol

  65. @Zach: “Kids are gonna be curious and do that kind of stuff, it strikes me as very puritanical (and divorced from reality) that some people and institutions treat it like budding sexual deviancy.”

    That’s what I’ve been saying. These kids aren’t thinking of it as a perverted thing, to them it’s playtime. Having fun. It’s the adults that bastardize it, and paint it as deviance. Only a deviant mind will paint something innocent as deviant. And these are the same twisted people that make up the rules? LOL! They are all just a bunch of perverts. I bet you many of them have a few closets full of skeletons.

  66. @Eric – just saying that if the teachers and staff are subject to checks so are volunteers.

    @Zach – it wasn’t trying to argue that background checks are ok solely because mine is clean – to me it is just a non-issue. I have to submit to them to work (and pee in a cup and report financials), I do it for my kid’s school, I had to do it to buy my co-op. It’s a matter of process and not worth worrying over.

  67. Sky, in response to your statement, it is indeed necessary in MANY school districts across the country, mine included, to have a background check to cut snowflakes with our children in the classroom.

    And yes, it is ridiculous.

  68. “I have nothing to hide so I have no problem with the checks.”

    I also have nothing to hide and DO have a problem with the checks. It’s an invasion into my personal business. The president of the PTO doesn’t need to know my SSN, DOB and criminal history – or lack thereof. The school knowing that information does absolutely NOTHING to protect any child in that school. I work as a public defender in a community where 97% of the defendants are represented by us. We’ve handled hundreds of child molestation cases in the last few years. I can count on my fingers the number of them who had prior criminal history at all and count on ONE HAND with fingers left over the number of them with prior sexual criminal history (can only come up with 3). The checks are simply a meaningless invasion of privacy that accomplish nothing but keeping certain “undesirables” away from your precious little snowflake.

    Further, I deal with “criminals” on a daily basis. I’d sooner let some of them cut snowflakes with my kid than some of the “fine upstanding citizens” that I know. Hell, give me one of my clients over a couple of the judges and DAs that I work with as a babysitter any day.

  69. Also, parent involvement in school is the greatest indicator of future success. There is not some great problem with career criminals volunteering in schools. The vast majority of my clients have never seen the inside of their children’s classrooms. And most of our juvenile clients are their children. If some ex-con cares enough about his child’s education to actually volunteer in school, fabulous. That may actually be one kid that stays out of the system and does something with his life. And that ex-con is also probably made some kind of life change and is not the same person who committed the crime.

  70. @Matt: I agree. That’s what I was saying, if certain people are going to be screened, then ALL involved need to be screened as well. That includes, higher up officials like the mayor and governor. As well as school trustees/board members, superintendent, teachers, etc… As long as you are part of the process, you have to be screened.

  71. Had a narrow brush with this issue recently at Noelani Elementary School in Honolulu. My son is in first grade, two girls were doing some gymnastics “bridges” in the middle of some other kids playing tag. My son tagged them on the most accessible part of their bodies – the crotch – and when I arrived to pick him up at the end of the day and asked where he was, I was treated to a faculty member yelling across the room that he was “sticking his hands in three girls’ private parts” and then found my son sleeping in “time out.” They sent a written statement from him to the parents of the two “victims” (the third girl admitted she was lying), but since he’s not capable of writing they actually wrote out a statement and made him copy it. We had to lawyer up before the school agreed to drop everything.

  72. If I can just share, because this is my favorite story–

    My mom and aunts were all very matter of fact about body parts and functions. No cutesy names, all terminology was correct and upfront. (A 4 year old saying he has to “urinate?” Pretty funny.)

    Anyway, my aunt’s mother-in-law was much more puritanical about such things. She was paranoid about little boys having their hands in their pockets, because she thought they might be touching themselves. She saw my three year old cousin with his hand in his pants at one point, and scolded him, asking what he was doing.

    His response? “Don’t worry gramma, I’m just fixing my penis!”

  73. Here’s my favorite “background check” story.

    Some of the parents of my kids’ middle school cross country team were concerned about their kids (grades 7-8) being “alone” at the city park (the nicest park in the richest neighborhood in the city) for a 1/2 hour before practice until the coach was finished with his school day at the high school two blocks away. (“Alone” being defined as being in a group of about 10 kids.)

    So, in order to satisfy the school district’s demand (in response to these parents’ concerns) to have an “official” person to be with the 12-14 year olds during that 1/2 hour, one of the moms went through a background check. To sit in the park for a half hour with a bunch of pre/early teens, but OFFICIALLY.

    OH, and the reason they got “concerned?” One of the kids sprained her ankle during the waiting time because she was running around playing “and there was no one there.” (Except all the other kids, some of whom had cell phones.)

    Well, okay, but the coach did show up just a few minutes later, she wasn’t in cardiac arrest, and….um….it was a CROSS COUNTRY PRACTICE. So, if the coach or someone else had been “properly supervising,” she wouldn’t have been RUNNING AROUND????????

  74. I am a pre k teacher and the other day one of the boys decided he needed to pee while we were on the play ground so he went over by the fence and did so. I found out because he did it in front of a group of kids who all said ewww he’s peeing on the ground. I thought it was funny i sent his mom (who is a good friend) a text right after it happened and she laughed and said at least he didn’t do it in his pants.

  75. My son likes to chase you ass first making fart sounds, should I be worried?

    lol

  76. Yesterday I was on a long-distance bus here in Italy and had the pleasure of observing a girl (about 10) interacting with her brother (8-9). She continuously touched, hugged, squeezed and kissed the boy, with no objections from him.

    About once every minute the boy kissed their mother, and the girl responded by kissing him (on the cheek, ear, head, neck, back, arm), so it’s hard to imagine that he didn’t know he was pressing his sister’s button. He didn’t reciprocate much, but that may be a cultural inhibition. (This is a traditional culture where men are men, and women do the cooking.)

    It’s possible that Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle applies here: The girl was aware I was watching her, so she may have been more affectionate than usual because she perceived my approval. On the other hand, the two sibs were sharing one seat (designed for one person) on the crowded bus, and overcrowding usually provokes hostility rather than affection.

    Was she expressing love, or just playing? Older sibs often act as teachers for the younger ones, and it seemed that she was instinctively trying to build up his resistance to over-stimulation through practice. I would call that perfectly normal.

  77. I’ve never heard of her, hence this post

  78. aw shucks.
    Kids have the most amazing ability to be sensual without being sexual.
    (I’m always astounded by the sheer number of um, adults – who don’t seem capable of comprehending the difference between those two words.
    To me – they can be a gazzillion miles apart. And for kids, they most often are. (which is natural.)
    Old folks are constantly defining every action in adult terms – when what the kids actually are expressing can be something entirely different.

    We suffered through Victorian “tightness” so long ago….I wonder sometimes if that sad state of affairs is not returning.
    But the pathetic hypocrisy of it – is that we’ve created a world that bombards kids with images of sexuality to beat the band, then expect them to somehow not notice?

    wow.

    I wonder sometimes – if pedophelia is not thriving and healthy as a horse, it seems…simply because collectively as a society, we are so helpless to just deal with it (including the roots of vulnerability to it.)
    That would be the big deal to me.

    Kids have secrets, that belong to them, sure enough. They also possess certain “wisdoms” that when nurtured, might make them a little less vulnerable.
    We’re lighthouses, we are – guiding little ships to keep them off the rocks. If we captain those little ships too….then how do they learn to steer their own course?
    – just a thought.

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