A 9-year-old Florida boy was warned by his school to stop writing love notes to his crush, or he'll face sexual harassment charges.
"He's 9," the boy's incredulous mother told ABC Action News. "What little kid doesn't write love notes?"
The warning came from school officials in Hillsborough County, Florida, the ABC affiliate reported, after classmates found out about the love notes and started teasing the boy about them, saying the boy wanted to see his crush naked.
When school officials caught wind of the situation, they called the lovestruck boy's mother.
"That's when the principal proceeded to tell me that it wasn't appropriate that he was writing the note and that if he writes another note, they are going to file sexual harassment charges on my 9-year-old," said the mom, whose name wasn't made public by the ABC affiliate to protect the identity of her son.
The content of the notes was typical kid-crush fare, the mom said, with the boy telling his crush "her eyes sparkle like diamonds." She said her son, a fourth-grader, doesn't understand why he's been reprimanded.
"My 9-year-old doesn't even know what sexual harassment means," the boy's mother said.
Officials at Hillsborough County Public Schools downplayed the incident, telling ABC Action News that they did not threaten to involve police, but admitted to warning the boy against further notes because they were "unwanted" by the girl.
If either child feels uncomfortable, or the school district wants the love letters to stop, the best thing to do is have the parents speak to their kids directly, said Valerie McClain, a Tampa psychologist.
"It may be something he thought was very sweet and innocent," McClain told ABC Action News.
McClain said she doesn't believe the incident constitutes sexual harassment, and is more about teaching kids to respect boundaries.
"What needs to happen is education needs to be provided about how to relate to this young girl or how to stay away from talking to her, if that's the goal," McClain said.