An issue came up on another listserve I hang out at. The issue was what to do to protect a 6 year old girl who was subjected to “sexual harassment” [sic] when two older boys came up to her on the playground at school and pulled down her pants and underwear. (I would call it an “attack” but that’s another rant.) As presented on the list, when the parents complained the school took no immediate action; rather, the administration told her that they would have to “discuss” the matter “to determine an acceptable course of action.” Worse still, then next day all three children were place on the same bus to go on a field trip and, when Mom complained, the principal said that he didn’t think that it was a problem to put the two boys and her daughter together on the same bus.
I am (still) outraged by this school’s behavior. My advice on the list is below:
[You] need to act now, not later. Among other things (and the advice to date is pretty good in my judgment) she needs to a) make it clear to her daughter that *she* did nothing wrong; b) make it clear to her daughter that Mom & Dad will support her through thick & thin; c) make it clear to the school that these “older” boys cannot be allowed within 30 feet of the little girl, d) make it clear to the school that, principles or not, actions have consequences and that you WILL NOT permit the school to teach your friend’s daughter that she must permit herself to be abused and/or raped; e) make it clear to these “older” boys that putting hands on someone else without a clear invitation is NOT allowed and WILL have consequences and f) make it clear to the parents of these “older” boys that their Little Darlings are in Deep DOO-DOO both civilly and at the school.
To achieve these objectives I would a) take the girl with me to see the school principal and make it clear during that trip that I expect the school to support my child over these “older” boys; b) explicitly tell the school that they have No Time Left to make a decision about what the punishment will be for the “older” boys; c) tell them that if the punishment is unsatisfactory to you *and* your friend’s daughter you will take additional steps possibly including criminal charges and a civil lawsuit against the school for permitting this sort of behavior; and d) contact the parents of these two Little Darlings to tell them what is expected as well. This is what I did when *7* boys attacked my 4th grader a few years ago. There were some very upset people but she got a public apology from the boys and they were punished by the school (after I explained what the press release accompanying the lawsuit would look like). One of the parents gave me an attitude but got over it when I told them that if they persisted I would file charges with Child Protective Services that they were teaching their little boy to be a rapist.
Other suggestions from listerve members I thought were worthwhile were: a) to contact the Department of Child Protective Services (or the equivalent) and b) as part of contacting the parents a letter from a lawyer demanding insurance information preparatory to filing a lawsuit.
Finally, (and what has set me off *again*) some people counseled care: this approach is sure to anger the school and alienate the parents of the Little Darlings. The comment was made that, in a small town, you might expect to be attacked as a troublemaker by the parents and the school. To these people I say this: Do you *WANT* to teach this little girl that the rich and powerful or the bullies can do whatever they want to her? Do you*WANT* to teach her that her parents cannot protect her? How could you look at yourself in the mirror after doing that? Pfui!