October 15, 1996 · Cavalier Daily

Kiss and Expel?

This opinion article reacts to two incidents in Ohio and New York, in which elementary school students were expelled for kissing their classmates. The writer condemns both expulsions as overreactions and asserts that the criminalization of such minor actions create an environment of fear for children. She maintains that, although the expulsion of both elementary students effectively treat the instances as sexual harassment, this is inaccurate and an overreaction.


1996-10-15 Cavalier Daily Kiss and Expel.pdf
Julia Miller
Cavalier Daily
Cavalier Daily
Kiss and Expel?
IS IT JUST me, or does it seem like the world has gone off the deep end? I opened up the newspaper the other day and was treated to two stories about serious problems in the nation’s public schools/ The articles dod not describe guns in school or increasing drop-out rates. No, instead I read about a girl in Ohio who was suspended for four months for giving a friend a Midol tablet and a six-year old who was suspended from school for giving a little girl a kiss. It has not been that long since I have walked the halls of a public high school, and I have to wonder when the public school administrators went over the edge.
There can be no valid argument against the implementation of strong anti-drug policies in the nation’s schools. While overall drug use has declined during the last few years, drug use among teenagers has increased. That is a disturbing trend to be sure, and our schools have the power to educate and prevent such abuse with various programs and strict anti-drug enforcement policies. Many schools, hwoever, have exceeded the boundaries of reason and practicality.
Some schools have adopted policies which consider the use of over-the-counter drugs on par with such substances as cocaine and marijuana. The young girl who was caught giving Midol to a friend is considered a drug dealer in accordance with her school’s drug policy. That’s right, in the eyes of her school, she might as well be peddling heroin to kindergarten kids. I am not quite sure what to make of that. How can we justify suspending a girl for giving a friend a drug that easily is available in every drug store in the country? More importantly, how can she be compared to a drug dealer who sells cocaine to 11 year-olds on the playground? The school’s policy certainly takes a hard line against drugs, but at what expense? When did practicality and good judgment go out the window?
Another example of society spinning out of control is the case of the New York first-grader who was suspended for kissing a female classmate. Apparently it was sexual harassment prevention. Right. Actually, the new rules governing childhood behavior are beginning to concern me. I think of the valentines and pecks on the cheek which came my way when I was a little girl and wonder if I was scarred in some still unknown way. I have a friend who was once known as the “closet kisser” when he was in elementary school very popular with the ladies, he was. I think I feel a class action suit coming on.
All of the above actions supposedly have been taken in the name of helping and protecting our children. It seems, however, that they are doing more harm than good. What are schools teaching children when they suspend a student for the possession of Advil, as a school in Texas recently did? Is that teaching them drugs are wrong and they shouldn’t do it? No, it’s not. Kids are not stupid and they known an unreasonable rule when they see one. Telling children they cannot take a simple pain reliever does not correlate with a decrease in the consumption of far more dangerous drugs like heroin and cocaine.
Strong anti-rug policies are commendable. Parents, teachers, and administrators seem to be at a loss with the increase of drug use among teenagers. State and national programs have not been working, and every parent worries about the problem of drugs in schools. Lashing out at anything and everything that smacks of impropriety, however, is not the way to erase those problems.
For god’s sake, let the kids take their Advil and Midol. It is completely impractical and ridiculous to ban such harmless pain remedies. Let’s start worrying about and taking action against those drugs which pose a real threat to children. Schools need to educate the students and let them know illegal drug use is dangerous, harmful and will not be tolerated.
And what are those first graders in New York learning? Has a possible sexual harassment scandal been avoided? Is the coat closet a safer place? The school and society are showing children there is something wrong, criminal even, about holding a hand or giving a kiss. Why does society insist on taking every bit of innocence and joy away from today’s children? Parents complaint that children grow up too fast, yet we force six-year-olds to worry about sexual harassment and the like long before it should become an issue.
Physical contact, such as the hug that to a child says “I care” or the kiss that means “I love you” in the sweet and innocent way of childhood are natural. More than that, they are what help us to become compassionate, caring adults. If there is a problem with sexual harassment among adults, it is important to show children what is proper and acceptable; but to preclude them from showing any form of affection only teaches children to be suspicious and distant.
Society is creating a world of fear for our children. In a time when the world represents enough unknown dangers and uncertainties, parents and educators must give our children the tools to meet the challenges the future will bring. Whether it means drug education or a lesson in respect and behavior, society has the responsibility to allow children to enjoy the special innocence and happiness only childhood can provide.
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Date Added June 15, 2016
Date Modifed December 24, 2017
Collection Cavalier Daily: articles about gender discrimination

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