This makes me furious.
Here's some bits:
Boy, 6, Accused of Sex Abuse
THE Education Department has investigated claims a six-year-old student ran a "sex club" at an eastern suburban primary school, involving up to up to half a dozen grade 1 students.
One mother said her son, also six, was asked to perform a sex act, and that the alleged perpetrator also exposed his genitals to students.
The mother has been unable to make a police report because the law states sexual assault by a child under 10 cannot be prosecuted.
"Victims of a perpetrator who is under the age of 10 should still have the same rights as any other victim of a sexual crime," she said.
But consulting psychologist John Cheetham said six-year-olds did not have a developed sense of right and wrong. "They are too young to put themselves into someone else's shoes," he said. "We've got to be very careful about putting an adult take on it, it's all about context."
Oh. My. God.
There are so many layers of wrong in this story that it makes my skin crawl.
1. Six. He's six. Six years old. He is not a PERPETRATOR for crying out loud. He's a six year old boy who thinks his penis is cool. He wants to show it to people. These people do not want to see it. Someone needs to go up to this boy and say sternly, 'Please leave your penis in your pants, Johnny (or whatever his name is). It's no big whoop. Half the human race have one.'
2. The mother who wants to prosecute this boy borders on insane.
Edited to admit this is a bit harsh, and I've tweaked some of the following lines - of course I am interpreting this mother's actions through some pretty sensationalist reporting and I don't know what's really going on for her. I am sure she's mostly confused and upset, but even so, I do stand by my comment that it is both misguided and ethically wrong to pursue or frame this kind of play as sexually criminal, implying the same motives and intentions as an adult abusing a child.
This kind of behaviour, while not as sweet as blowing dandelion fluff is pretty freaking normal in young children. I know I saw a little wormy penis or two before I turned 7, vaginas too. Bottoms are interesting. Then they stop being interesting. Then they start being interesting again later. Read Freud. To me this says more about our perception that a mother should be able to control every aspect of her child's experience, including sexual, than it does about the six year old boy accused of (vomit) holding a sex club. Come on. If anyone needs counselling it's anyone who believes children under ten should be able to be prosecuted as sex offenders.
3. Framing this behaviour as sexual abuse is tantamount to SEXUAL ABUSE. It is turning normal child behaviour (admittedly on the precocious, possibly slightly icky end of the spectrum) into something unhealthy. If anything a child that shows extreme sexual behaviour does need to be talked to and examined carefully by a doctor for evidence of sexual abuse. They don't need to be called a perpetrator.
4. Reporting stories like this as serious news is silly. Tomorrow's headlines 'Who Stole The Cookie from the Cookie Jar?' and 'Sister punches sister, other sister dobs.' All it does is contribute to the completely alarmist view that all of society can be separated into victim and perpetrator, that the whole world is crawling with paedophiles and that every kind of touching is suspect touching.
5. As Martin said tonight, the expectation that parents will control all their children's behaviours is huge these days. To add to this burden (and to further insulate children to an unhealthy degree), articles like this suggest parents (or even worse "authorities") should also be able to control their children's emerging sexuality.
It's not about knowing the difference between right and wrong. It's NOT wrong. I'm not saying that the other kids should have to look at his penis if they don't want to. I'm just saying there's perfectly normal avenues for dealing with this and that by blowing it out of proportion, they are risking real damage to this child's developing identity.
Every now and then I meet someone who has no idea what it's like to be a child. It's like their own childhood never happened. They also seem to entirely lack the imagination or ability to put themselves in a child's shoes. They have children of their own, they meet other children, they even attend playgroups, but yet they seem isolated from a culture of children, distrustful of children's exuberance, noise and emotions and alarmed by their undeveloped social skills. Although they take a great deal of joy in their own children, and love them dearly, they admit, often freely, to not particularly liking other people's children. That's what this story made me think of. Kids can seem kind of creepy to adults, and to each other, but that's called projecting, and it's adults doing it, seeing adult motives in child behaviour. When Fred tells me she's going to be me one day she doesn't mean she's going to grow up, kill me, make a wig from my hair and turn up at my book signings. She's learning about the boundaries of herself. Theyn all are. And they have these wildly fascinating bodies and they can't learn everything they need to know about them out of a book.
It also reminded me of J & B who I used to look after nearly 15 years ago (cripes) at a creche in Hobart. They invented a game called Sand in Bottoms, played in secret in a quiet spot behind the fort in the sandpit. We did the right things - we told their parents about it and said they might want to keep an eye on it and we put an end to it, upping our supervision in that part of the playground. But it was a fundamentally healthy game. J & B wanted to see what each other's bottoms looked like, and then put sand in them. Neither of them were disturbed by it, or showed any other worrying or extreme behaviours. Normal. Normal. Normal.