An Atlanta student has been suspended for a year for giving a teacher a hug, and as alleged, a kiss on the neck. The parents say that they seventeen year-old football and lacrosse player will be deprived of a scholarship. While the school district is saying very little about the student personnel case, the charge is "sexual harassment".
In October a Baltimore City nineteen year-old attacked a teacher with furniture and the district reported that the incident was under investigation and his behavior would be addressed with the student code of conduct. For nearly twenty years as a superintendent three types of behavior came to my office: distributing drugs, bringing a weapon, and striking a teacher. These offenses warranted quick and permanent punishment. Typically you were headed out of school …or to a very different option. There were on average more than 20 cases a year. Not one was for hugging a teacher.
Most definitions describe sexual harassment as bullying by a peer or supervisor...a student is neither to a teacher. While the Atlanta student may have deserved the punishment, it seems illogical that a student who harasses a teacher is kicked out for a year and the student who hits the teacher with a chair is under investigation. The number one priority of schools should be to keep teachers and students safe. Perhaps number two is to create an environment where students know that teachers care about them. When teachers consider students peers and stop hugging them, they open themselves to harassment.