Love notes are a rite of passage for grade school kids, but they can also be disruptive and it’s important that our children know where that line is. A 9-year-old Florida boy is learning a tough lesson about unwanted attention after the school principal threatened him with sexual harassment charges to get him to stop writing love notes to a girl in his class.
The fourth grader, who hasn’t been identified because he’s a minor, has apparently been writing repeated notes to his crush telling her how beautiful she is and how much he likes her. His latest note says her eyes are “like diamonds” and he likes her because her “hair is not sloppy.” It even has a big heart drawn in the middle with “I like you” written inside.
According to ABC Action News, the notes were unwanted and were even causing other children to taunt both the girl and the note writer. Kids were teasing them, saying the boy wanted to see the girl naked, and making other inappropriate comments. The principal told the fourth grader the unwanted notes are considered a form of harassment and then threatened to file sexual harassment charges if the student wrote another one.
The student’s mom is understandably dismayed. She tells ABC Action News that her son did nothing wrong and “doesn’t even understand what sexual harassment means.” She further defended his actions, saying, “What little kid doesn’t write love notes?”
While sexual harassment charges may be extreme in this case, the principal was absolutely right to ask the student to stop writing notes, and his mom really needs to explain harassment to him. Regardless of how sweet the wording or how good the intentions, no one should feel entitled to continually subject another person to unwanted romantic advances. If the girl doesn’t want anymore notes, that should be the end of the discussion.
Kids who are old enough to have crushes are also old enough to understand boundaries and respect. Way too often, girls are taught that they have to put up with unwanted attention and allow boys to make them feel uncomfortable, and that’s bullshit. It’s not cute or sweet that this kid doesn’t understand when to stop bothering someone. He needs to know that there’s a person on the other end of his notes — not an object — and her feelings matter too.
Kids are going to have crushes and send love notes, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem comes when the attention is unwanted and repeated, and when we start excusing behaviors that make other people feel uncomfortable just because we think they’re “cute.” There’s nothing adorable about harassment, and while legal action may be extreme in this case, it’s definitely not out of line to teach kids they’re not entitled to keep pestering someone just because they like them.