September 29, 1996 in Nation/World

Stolen Kisses Some Children Say Wow And Some Say Yuck, But Only Grown-Ups Say Sexual Harassment

Julia Prodis Associated Press
 

Dusty was walking down the hall to kindergarten gym class, his hands folded obediently behind his back, when a pretty little girl in a sunflower dress came up behind him and planted a kiss on his cheek.

“I felt like I was going to shoot like a rocket!” 6-year-old Dusty recalls. “Then my eyes started to pop out.”

The little blond boy with gaps between his teeth has been chasing girls on the playground ever since.

Stolen kisses in the schoolyard may be as much a part of childhood as scraped knees and cookies and milk - only rarer.

“Yuck!” says Sarah, crinkling her nose and exposing her missing front teeth. If any boys kissed her, the Dallas first-grader says, “I’d slap ‘em with my lunch box and make their nose bleed.”

In Lexington, N.C., Southwest Elementary School may be forever remembered as the school that punished a first-grader for giving a girl a peck on the cheek.

The boy, Johnathan Prevette, a 6-year-old with blond hair and Coke bottle glasses, was separated from his class - and missed an ice cream party - for violating the school’s sexual harassment policy, which bars “unwelcome touching.” Johnathan said the little girl asked for the kiss.

But at Dan D. Rogers Elementary School in Dallas, first-grade boys and girls are more likely to get caught swapping kicks than stealing kisses.

In first-grade, it’s clear, some kids don’t know the meaning of a kiss, much less sexual harassment. (“When you kiss on the mouth, you have to get married,” 6-year-old Edwin says.)

These kids are more concerned with riding their bikes, staying inside the lines in the coloring book and learning the days of the week.

Marina is waiting until she’s 17 to kiss a boy. But if she’s caught by surprise by a boy before then, “I would tell a teacher because sometimes I don’t like boys because they’re ugly.

“But if they’re cute, I’d kiss him and not tell and keep it a secret because the moms might not let you be friends.”

Dusty still hasn’t kissed a girl yet. Kaitlyn, who gave him his first kiss, moved away last year. But that hasn’t stopped the chase. He has a new girlfriend, although he confesses he doesn’t yet know her name.

“Every time I see her I just want to jump up and chase her like a wolf,” he says.

Sarah quickly grows tired of talking about “this mushy stuff.”

“It makes me want to barf.”


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