School Denies Claims Boy Labelled A 'Sex Offender' For Hugging Classmate
The family of five-year-old Nathan said he has been registered as a sex offender after hugging a classmate -- but the school says that's not true.
Reports a five-year-old boy was put on a sex offender list for hugging his classmate are inaccurate, the school has said.
The family of Nathan claim he has been registered as a sex offender after hugging and kissing classmates, and that his autism means he doesn't understand boundaries.
His guardian Summery Putnam told media she was "sick to her stomach" when his school called saying she needed to talk to Nathan about boundaries.
His grandmother, Debi Amick, wrote in a widely-reported private Facebook post that Nathan had been recorded as a "sex offender".
"What do you do when a 5-year-old child is being labelled a sexual predator and accused of sexual harassment by the school system?" his grandmother Debi Amick wrote in a private Facebook post.
However, Nathan's school in Tennessee has refuted these claims, saying the family's characterisation of the issue does not capture the full context of concerns expressed to them.
"It was not a hug or kiss that prompted the school to contact the family," East Ridge Elementary said in a statement.
"Also, at no time did the school administration punish the child or treat the incident as a discipline issue. Moreover, no one at the school sought to label the child as a 'sexual predator'."
The school added that it was bound by student privacy laws and unable to publicly discuss specific details of the incident, but would be happy to with written consent from the family.
A spokesperson for Hamilton County Department of Education said school personnel were required to report concerns regarding children to the Department of Child Services (DCS), but would not comment if it had done so in this case.
Under Tennessee law, juvenile offenders must be convicted before being registered as a sex offender.
Putman told local media her son has now switched classrooms and teachers and is enrolled in special education.
A Facebook group called 'Nathan's Voice' has more than 400 members.
10 daily has reached out to both Amick and Putnam for further comment.
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