Please, Think of the Children

A few weeks ago there were a couple of incidents involving second graders in an Oakland elementary school classroom. One involved several children partially undressing and becoming disruptive. The other incident involved a male and female student engaging in oral sex. The type is not mentioned, but one would assume fellatio. In this country, cunnilingus is rarely spoken of as “oral sex in the media. The breathless news coverage spoke of “shocking sexual incidents.  The parents were “understandably disturbed, and have no idea how these children learned such things.

Really? You’re kidding, right?

I vividly remember as an early elementary school boy touching my friend’s nipple as he stood shirtless in his kitchen. Hell, a couple members of his family were there when I did it. I was curious, and it was an impulsive move. However, I remember it because he laughed at me about being a “fag. I had no idea what a fag was (I doubt he really did either), but obviously what I had just done wasn’t cool, and we both just went outside to play. Nothing else came of it. My parents loved to embarrass my high school self and my female dates with stories of me bringing my male elementary school friends into the bathroom with me to urinate. Crossing swords, anyone? I drew penises on all the characters in my Green Eggs and Ham book. I had yet to encounter any porn when those incidents occurred. When I did discover my brother’s Playboys in the latter stages of elementary school, the female nudity was the only draw. I wasn’t interested in reading it.

Playing doctor, playing house, I’ll show you mine if you show me yours, etc., etc. Sex play among children just a part of normal development. These parents just need to think about their own childhood to remind themselves of that.

To be clear, I’m not dismissing these incidents as “kids will be kids.  My problem is the pumping up of sex panic when these things happen. No one looks really critically at what these children really need (to their credit, the teachers and therapists I’ve seen and read in this story have been trying to focus it back on what’s really important here). The two engaged in oral sex were probably mimicking something they saw. I’d like to know how they came across that knowledge without jumping to the conclusions. Was it something they stumbled upon?  Was it forced on them? One can’t move forward without knowing those facts, but adults reading these stories so anyway. Adults shove the children aside in these matters, put up walls, and blame everything around them “ parents, teachers, media, gays marriage. They need to step back and look at the bigger picture. Are these children not getting the attention they crave? Why is that? I can think of a number of answers (mostly involving poverty), but I don’t have a sense of the facts because everyone’s too focused on what they did instead of why they did it.

In the midst of my writing this, there was an alleged sexual assault on a 7 year old by a gang of other boys as the Girls and Boys Club in Oakland. If true, it’s a much more disturbing incident than the one’s that occurred above. Again, I’m sure the headlines will focus on the sexual aspect of this for the public. Just keep in mind that, if true, this bullying case is about violence, not about sex.

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