Story Summary

Touching Game Investigation Underway

Officials Investigating Fifth Grade ‘Game’ Officials are investigating a so-called “touching game” at Crestview Elementary School in Lawrence Township. School officials said eight children described the game as involving quick touches on the outside of their clothing. Some parents, though, claim the 10-year-old boy at the center of the game would chase and then pin girls to the ground before touching their private areas.

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TV, the internet and older friends– elementary school children are picking up some disturbing behaviors.  Recently, several area schools have had to discipline students for inappropriate touching. Parents have told us it is a big problem. Now, the schools are taking action.

Suspended students are back in school at Crestview Elementary, but they are not back in class completely.

“They are not in a traditional classroom and they are not with those same students,” said Mary Louise Bewley, Lawrence Township spokeswoman.  “Along with their classwork, they also receive counseling.”

Seven fifth-graders at Crestview Elementary in Lawrence Township were suspended as the school investigated what the students called, “The Game.”  Kids were touching each others’ private parts.

“It is not something that the kids are getting over with in a day,” said Bewley. “We do not expect that. We do have a counselor that is working with the children who have requested support.”

Bewley said the school also plans to bring in a program called Good Touch, Bad Touch, to help get every student on the same page.

“It is a refresher for some, it may be new for some,” said Bewley.

Good Touch, Bad Touch is a division of the Victim Assistance Unit within IMPD.

“We work with a variety of different victims whether that be- a homicide family, sexual assault, domestic violence, robbery,” said Victim Assistance Manager Lisa Brown.

Members of the unit are often called to crime scenes, but they are also in schools about every week.  They are giving presentations, but they also help break the ice with students.

“It just kind of starts that conversation with the kids that you have a right to not be touched on your body,” said Brown. “If somebody is doing something that makes you feel uncomfortable, you can talk to somebody.”

A separate incident at Sidener Academy involved 12 year olds. Brown said sadly, it is the way things are now.

“Unfortunately we live in a very different time,” said Brown. “We are seeing younger and younger victims.”

“We are trying to, as a school and as a district, wrap our arms around these kids and try to help them,” said Bewley.

Bewley said there is no timetable set as to when The Good Touch, Bad Touch program will head to Crestview Elementary, she said the sooner the better.  Until that happens, a mental health therapist will be at the school.

Additionally, the Victim Assistance Unit provides expertise when dealing with the following issues:

  • Homicides
  • Robberies
  • Domestics
  • Assaults
  • Sex Offenses
  • Child in Need Services
  • Child Abuse/Neglect
  • Elderly Abuse
  • Suicides
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

All services are provided at no cost. Call (317)327-3331 for more information.

Education
02/11/13

DCS now involved in “touching game” investigation

The Indiana Department of Child Services said they are now involved in the case of the so-called “touching game” at Crestview Elementary School in Lawrence Township. Although a DCS spokeswoman could not comment specifically on the case, she did say the department became involved after getting a report on the incident.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police also said their Child Abuse Division is reviewing the case to determine whether they will become involved. And now, some parents of children involved in the case are accusing school officials of trying to downplay multiple cases of sexual abuse.

The case became public last week, after a fifth-grader told school officials Tuesday that she had been inappropriately touched by a classmate. The school sent parents an email Wednesday, saying their investigation “uncovered a small group of students has created what they call a ‘game’ that involves inappropriate touching.”

School officials said eight children described the game as involving quick touches on the outside of their clothing. That sparked outrage among some parents, who say their daughters described much more contact with the same 10-year-old boy.

“It was not a game,” said one mother who did not wish to be identified.  “It was inappropriately touching someone in their private areas that should not be touched, especially on a fifth-grader.”

Another mother claimed the school was not telling the whole story in describing the inappropriate contact.

“I know a game of tag,” she said.  “I used to play it when I was little.  And it never involved pinning someone to the ground, spreading their legs and getting on top of them and humping them.”

In particular, one set of parents is upset that the school didn’t call them as soon as their daughter told school officials about the touching. They’re also angry that the school principal wanted to handle the matter internally without calling police.

Criminal Defense Attorney Jack Crawford told Fox59 that if the school found evidence of sexual abuse, they were obligated to report it to authorities.

“I’m not aware as to how promptly school officials reported this,” Crawford said.  “It should be reported right away.”

DCS would not confirm who filed the report with them. But the parents of one girl said they were the ones who initally called police, after Principal Kim Brown refused to.

Some of the parents are now exploring possible legal action against the school.  They believe teachers and faculty of Crestview Elementary failed to maintain a safe environment for their children.

It was called “the game.”  It involved students, touching the private parts of other students at school.

Sheri Mickelsen’s fifth grade son saw it “played” in the school’s library.

“A little girl was kneeling down to get a book and then a little boy came over behind her and started tickling her,” said Mickelsen. “Then she ended up on the floor, and he was on her and would not let her up.”

According to the school, seven fifth-graders at Crestview Elementary School are at the center of the acts of inappropriate touching.  It has mothers like Mickelsen worried.

“I am actually contemplating pulling them out of school and doing the K-12 program with them,” said Mickelsen.

The school said one of the girls involved in “the game” came to them Tuesday, upset about what was going on.  That was when the investigation began.

“It is very important to understand what all occurred, who all was involved, and to make sure we do right by all of our children,” said Lawrence Township Spokeswoman Mary Louise Bewley.

All parents at the school received text messages, parents of fifth grade students received a phone call.  Three students have been suspended, but the remaining four are back in school.

“That is a problem,” said Mickelsen.  “I know you have to be careful and make sure you find out the whole story, but I say you protect the kids first and ask questions later.”

Bewley said the school plans to separate the students, offering counseling and support.

“We do not think a 10-year-old should be expelled, that is not the best way for him to understand the changes that are going on,” said Bewley.

Mickelson worried if those kids are walking down the halls again, it will desensitize other students like her son.

“At this point, I would like some more information and some questions answered,” said Mickelsen.

Members of Lawrence Township School said they will err on the side of education and bring in national programs like Good Touch, Bad Touch to re-enforce the fact that inappropriate touching is wrong, and it will not be tolerated at school.

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