• A family claimed their 5-year-old autistic child was being labeled as a sexual predator for hugging a student and kissing another on the cheek
  • Nathan’s grandmother Debi Amick made a post on WCTI News Channel 12’s Facebook page asking for advice on what to do
  • Hamilton County Schools released a statement claiming the family’s characterization was not accurate to the school’s concerns

Hamilton County Schools released a statement denying that an autistic child identified as “Nathan” was ever disciplined or labeled a sexual predator for hugging one classmate and kissing another on the cheek.

What Happened

Nathan’s guardian, Summery Putnam, claimed at the beginning of the week that she received a call from East Ridge Elementary in Tennessee. It was during that call that Putnam claimed a teacher told her to have a “talk with Nathan about boundaries.” The teacher allegedly accused Nathan of “sexual activities.”

Nathan’s grandmother Debi Amick made a post about the accusations on Facebook. Amick posted to WCTI News Channel 12 explaining what happened and asking advice on what to do now. “What do you do when a 5 year child is being labeled a sexual predator and accused of sexual harassment by the school system,” Amick wrote.

What do you do when a 5 year child is being labeled a sexual predator and 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 5 year. 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. if anyone can offer advice or help please do. Please feel free to comment or pm me.

Debi Amick Via Facebook

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Hamilton County School Statement

The statement released by Hamilton County Schools on Wednesday denies the family’s allegations but does not go into any details on the incident due to student privacy laws that prevent them from doing so. “The family’s characterization of the incident with their child at East Ridge Elementary does not capture the full context of the concerns expressed to them by the school,” the statement reads.

Hamilton County Schools is committed to the safety and well-being of all students. Our school leaders work to serve our families and meet the needs of our diverse learners. This family’s characterization of the incident with their child at East Ridge Elementary does not capture the full context of the concerns expressed to them by the school. It was not a hug or kiss that prompted the school to contact the family. 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.”

Hamilton County Schools is bound by student privacy laws that do not allow us to discuss publicly specific details of what happened in the classroom setting with the child. Of course, at the family’s direction and with their written approval, the district would be able to provide to interested parties documentation of the issues the school discussed with them.

The staff at East Ridge Elementary always elects to take action that places the concern for the child as their top priority – which is also required by our district policies and state laws. School leaders are only interested in the well-being of this very young child as he grows and learns with his classmates. The faculty and staff will continue to ensure that this child and every child in our care receives an excellent education in a safe, supportive learning environment.

Hamilton County Schools

Sex Offenders On The Spectrum

According to Nicole Pittman of Impact Justice, as she described a 14-year-old named Anthony who is now a registered sex offender for sending a picture of his genitals to his crush. Anthony is now not allowed to be left alone in a room with his younger siblings.

As a person on the registry, you’re considered a sex offender, and sex offenders can’t be with children under the age of 17.

In one moment he can be [Anthony] who is on the spectrum, but the minute this happens, all of that goes out the window and he becomes in people’s eyes a predator—that’s not the truth. That’s not who these kids are. They are young kids on the spectrum.

Nicole Pittman Via Broadly

Pittman says the most judges do not allow for special exceptions when dealing with children either on the autism spectrum or struggling with disabilities. Pittman fights to change these laws with fellow advocates such as Michigan-based social worker Susan H. Rogers. Rogers is the owner of Parent Counseling and Consulting. She was asked to be on the Professional Advisory Board for a Useful Registry in Michigan to help examine sex offender laws and their impact on those with disabilities.

Minor sex offenders are not listed publicly but still live with a list of restrictions. They are not allowed to attend school due to the large congregation of children. Most states will have the child register and add them to their registry with a photo once they turn 18. An example of how this one size fits all approach could backfire, Pittman gave Broadly a hypothetical situation that is close to reality.

Most times with children there is no sexual [motivation],” Pittman explains, but “the moment the touching looks sexual, though, society labels them pedophiles.” Rogers added that “it doesn’t matter if a person is on the spectrum. They’re going to be treated like any sex offender.” When an autistic child pulls his pants down in a grocery store, Pittman explains, “We look at [the situation] from the lens [of] a 50 year old man [flashing people].

Nicole Pittman Via Broadly

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