http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2006/02/09/case_vs_brockton_boy_stuns_officials/ Case vs. Brockton boy stuns officials Educators debate 'harassment' case By Tracy Jan and Kathleen Burge, Globe Staff | February 9, 2006 A 6-year-old Brockton boy's suspension on accusations of sexual harassment startled some school officials in the region yesterday; the officials said they avoid the words ''sexual harassment" when trying to teach young children about appropriate touching. School systems, by state law, must have policies barring sexual harassment, but officials from Boston, Arlington, Framingham, East Taunton, and Duxbury said they could not recall an instance in which they had punished a child that age for such an incident. In addition, it was excessive for the school system to suspend the child, said a former state Department of Education official, Nan D. Stein, who developed the state's first curriculum for addressing sexual harassment in schools. Officials should have addressed the issue in a way easier for 6-year-olds to understand: by telling the boy that rules required him to keep his hands to himself, said Stein, who developed the curriculum in 1979. ''We shouldn't be labeling it sexual harassment," she said. ''They don't understand it." Even if the boy had repeatedly touched the girl, it was ''outrageous" for school officials to refer the case to the district attorney's office, Stein said. Stein is now a senior research scientist at the Center for Research on Women at Wellesley Centers for Women. A spokeswoman at the Plymouth County district attorney's office, Bridget Norton Middleton, said yesterday that no charges will be filed because touching is not a criminal matter. The Brockton first-grader was suspended for three days Jan. 30, after school officials said he had put his hand inside the waistband of a girl's pants and had touched the skin on her back, said his mother, Berthena Dorinvil. But she said her son had told her that the girl had touched him first and that he had responded by touching her over her clothes, not on her skin. Dorinvil said the boy had not been in trouble before.