The Sexist

Gropers Start Early: Mother Alleges Her Second-Grader Was “Genitally Groped” At School

Speaking of disturbing groping incidents: WTOP's new series on schoolyard bullying, "No Bully Left Behind," contains some extreme accusations from one Montgomery County Public Schools mother. The mom of a second-grader at Rockville's College Gardens Elementary School, who wouldn't provide her name for fear of retaliation against her daughter, alleged that a couple of second-grade boys subjected her daughter (and other students) to a range of physical and psychological torture tactics over the past two years.

Among them: Punching, hitting, kicking, slamming kids into walls, holding kids down, death threats, graphic plans to carry out gun violence, threats to stab another kid in the eye with a pencil, and forming a "kill a classmate club." At school. In the second grade. According to the MCPS parent, the abuse was also sexual: "there was genital groping and there were unwanted sexual nicknames," she told WTOP.

The mother told WTOP that she reported the abuse to College Gardens staff, but says her concerns were shrugged off:

She went to officials at College Gardens Elementary School with her concerns.

"We were brushed off. They met with the boy that was accused. He denied it, and it went away. They said it didn't happen."

But she contacted other parents.

"And I simply said to them, 'Did your child report anything unusual on this date?' And I got back a fistful of responses."

Sound familiar? This is what many adult women—women who graduated the second grade decades ago—experience on a regular basis. They are sexually assaulted; they say something; the accusation is denied; it goes away.

Of course, this second-grade alleged offender—likely a 7- or 8-year-old boy—can't be held solely responsible for groping another child's genitals. No: That boy has been raised in a system where this is okay. When the groper is a second-grader, he is, indeed, "too young to know better." But that impulse to excuse away the groper's actions doesn't stop with second-grade offenders.

No one could argue that a second-grade girl was "asking" to getting groped. But as groping victims get older, commentators get more and more comfortable shifting the responsibility for preventing sexual assault to the victim—telling her that she shouldn't have gotten drunk, shouldn't have stood in the pit at a concert, shouldn't have worn a skirt, or shouldn't have gone to a bar and sat facing the bar like any normal patron. When groping incidents occur in bars and rock shows and workplaces, the implicit message is that women don't belong in these traditionally male spaces, and they deserve what's coming to them if they enter them.

In this latest case, it looks like these messages are being sent to girls as young as 7 for having the gall to show up to elementary school. The good news is that some media outlets and law enforcement agencies are taking this seriously, even if the school  allegedly failed to act on the complaint—the concerned mother ultimately secured a restraining order against the offending second-grader.

  • AM

    This wouldn't happen if girls didn't insist on getting book learnin'.

  • airdrummer

    let's just hope this taliban mentality doesn't get as bad here as there...

  • rosmar

    The groping second grader sounds mentally ill, sexually abused, or both.

    I agree with you about rape culture, but I really don't think a second grader is the best demonstration of it.

  • Blooming Psycho

    The boy who did this needs to get help before he grows up to rape or kill somebody. Of course he probably will not. Kids that do this sort of thing are manifesting signs of abuse. The fact that this is being swept under the carpet with the "tee hee, boys will be boys" mentality is very dismaying.

  • Comrade Al Gonzales

    Acting out like this is a classic sign of sexual abuse. Five writers here, only Rosmar has the right answer. The little boy has been sexually abused. No normal little kid grabs other little kids by the crotch. This little boy has probably had this done to him repeatedly.

    Ms. Hess's comment "That boy has been raised in a system where this is okay" is perhaps her most inane comment of the decade, & it faced heavy competition.

    When a little kid acts out like this, 99% of the time the kid has been sexually abused. This is a simple, bedrock truth of psychology, & it's stunning that people are so ignorant they don't see these signs. It leaves little hope that this sort of abuse can be stopped - if only 20% of people recognized a hallmark sign of sexual abuse, well, I guess that means only 20% of people would even have a chance to decide whether to report the abuse.

    It's a sad situation - so much ignorance, so little time.

  • AM

    Comrade Al, on my planet there is a thing called "sarcasm."

  • Liz

    I'm a little upset with the focus on the sexual abuse and the disregard for the rest. I understand this is the Sexist and that Ms Hess chose to focus her post on the groping, but second graders issuing death threats, mutilation threats, and forming a "kill a classmate" club is just as disturbing. Focusing on the sexual abuse as crossing a line, seems to put the rest down as not nearly as upsetting--which worries me.

    Regardless of the sexual abuse, this kid probably has a violent home life, and needs proper help.