Recently six year old Hunter Yelton made the news because he was suspended for the sexual harassment of a girl in his class in Colorado. It caused a very big controversy and made headlines all across America. However, it was difficult to make judgments because not very many people knew the full story. Many were outraged. All the boy did was kiss a girl in his class on the hand, right? Many argued that the boy could not even understand the meaning of sexual harassment, so how was the school justified in suspending him?
However, many of the people involved in the discussion little understood the full story.
The girl whom Yelton kissed (on the hand, but also previously on the cheek) had her mother to defend her and spread her side of the story with the help of the media. The girl was supposedly approached by Yelton before, although his mother waved it off as an “innocent crush.” The girl had even gone far enough to have to ask her mother about “what to do when someone’s touching you, but they won’t stop.” A girl who is only in the first grade having to ask those kinds of questions to their mother is ridiculous.
If someone is in a situation in which they feel unsafe, there is always reason for concern, especially if the person doing it does not understand the impact of their actions. No one should have to feel unsafe during school, and unfortunately this is an issue that many young people deal with daily, whether it is from someone kissing their hand or cyberbullying. Every young person has the right of access to a safe learning environment, and when students do not receive that, societal norms must be reviewed. Is it right for this sort of behavior to go so far that someone would rather die than to get help or tell an adult?
Some might even go so far to blame the person being bullied, or to simply say that parents are to blame. While this may be partially true, the main reason for concern is that many students do not feel comfortable telling others about dangerous or abusive situations they find themselves in. Our society should allow for people to be different and accept change but most importantly this change should be accepted to help students feel safe in their own schools and places of learning.
Christine Vanderwater is a senior at Carnegie Vanguard High School.