A five-year-old boy with autism has reportedly been put on record as a ‘sex offender’ after hugging a fellow classmate.
According to the child’s guardian, Summery Putnam, school officials at East Ridge Elementary in Chattanooga, Tennessee, filed a report with the state after the kindergartener, named Nathan, “overstepped his boundaries” by hugging another child.
Ms Putnam said she was sick to her stomach when she received a call from Nathan’s teacher earlier in September, accusing the boy of “sexual activities” for hugging a child and kissing another on the cheek.
According to Ms Putnam, Nathan has autism, which she says can make it difficult for him to understand social cues.
“He doesn’t know what he’s doing wrong,” Ms Putnam said.
In a Facebook post shared by News Channel 9, Nathan’s grandmother, Debi Amick, said:
“What do you do when a five-year-old child is being labelled a sexual predator and is accused of sexual harassment by the school system? It was disclosed that it will go in his record for the rest of his life that he is a sex offender.
“This child is autistic. He comprehends and functions very different than your typical five-year-old. What do you do? Who do you turn to for help when the school will not even listen to the child’s doctor when he explains the child’s difficulties in his comprehension of simple things such as boundaries?”
News Channel 9 contacted the school to ask if the teacher had filed a report with the Department of Child Services, however, a spokesperson for the school said the source of the complaints is confidential.
Tim Hensley, spokesman for the Hamilton County Department of Education said in a statement:
“School personnel are required to concerns regarding children to the Department of Child Services. It’s up to DCS to determine if those reports are acted on by DCS and what form those actions may take.”