Public officials called it “nutty” and “foolishness” yesterday, and one asked whether SWAT teams would descend on teenagers kissing at school, says the Rocky Mountain News. Denver’s district attorney calls one such case a crime. The difference between a kiss, and a crime, centers on the requirement that Denver Public Schools employees “make a report if child abuse or neglect reasonably is suspected.” Some say a climate of fear among school employees is spurring an unwarranted increase in abuse and neglect referrals. The head of Human Services indicated the agency was being overloaded, and there was concern about police resources. “It’s just getting to the point of ridiculousness where we’re prosecuting kids for kissing,” said City Councilman Doug Linkhart.
Among the examples cited was a referral to Human Services for two 5-year-olds who were kissing. In another case, one 6-year-old said to another 6-year-old, “You have a sexy booty.” There was no sanction in the case of the 6-year-old, but it remains a traumatic experience for children and their parents to be “ordered in” to Human Services, said a spokeswoman. The trigger for these and other cases came in January when the district attorney served a principal with a misdemeanor summons for failure to report an unlawful sexual contact.