LAND O’ LAKES — A mother’s complaint has led to an effort to eliminate a Friday “tradition” in which Pine View Middle School students reportedly slap members of the opposite sex on the behind.
The situation came to the attention of Superintendent Kurt Browning about two weeks ago when Tonya Bouvette-Thompson, the mother of an eighth-grade girl, sent him an email asking him to put a halt to what she termed “an aggressive and sexually assaulting tradition.”
She wrote that her daughter had become upset during her physical education class after two boys made rude comments about slapping girls on the buttocks. The girl was asked to file a school incident report after she told a teacher what the boys said.
“Sexual assault is a big deal and I do not see why this is not being dealt with swiftly and harshly?” the mother wrote. “This should not be an ongoing problem. There should be harsh consequences taken immediately. It is not all fun and games, nor a joke. Girls this age have enough problems dealing with their changing selves and young boys as it is.”
The same day Browning received Thompson’s email, he forwarded it to Pine View Principal Jennifer Crosby with his own message attached.
“What’s up with this?” Browning wrote. “If this is in fact occurring, we need to deal with it.”
Crosby confirmed that the “tradition” was indeed a problem.
“This situation does present itself and I assure you that when it is seen or reported that it is being dealt with,” Crosby told the superintendent Nov. 19. “I am going on the morning news this morning to share my thoughts and expectations as it relates to appropriate behavior and following the student code of conduct.
“It is not a situation that we take lightly and will continue to address until the negative behavior is extinct.”
The Pine View Middle situation isn’t expected to lead to any new policy or other far-reaching changes, district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said Wednesday. The district this year already was making a push to encourage students to respect each other as part of an anti-bullying campaign, and the effort to eliminate the slapping falls under that, she said.
Cobbe said the district has not heard reports of similar incidents at other Pasco schools.
The Friday buttocks slapping apparently has been a national phenomenon for several years, though, with young people referring to it as “Slap Ass Friday.” It is defined in the online Urban Dictionary and there are Youtube videos of young people participating.