Is a Four-Year-Old Even Capable of Committing Sexual Assault?


Is a Four-Year-Old Even Capable of Committing Sexual Assault?

Illustration: Akshita Monga/Arré

P will tell you that the developmental milestones of a four-year-old child are as follows: They are learning to express their emotions using gestures, noises, and drawing things besides speaking clearly, and learning to write their names. Four is also when playtime is sacrosanct for them; they’re running, hopping, playing catch, and climbing trees and furniture with equal ease. A typical four-year-old is also said to have a greater attention span, can walk up or down the stairs without help, understands instructions, and could be anxious about starting pre-school.

At four years, no child is equipped to use their logical reasoning skills to differentiate the lines they’re not permitted to cross. Their worldview is instead shaped up by what they are told, what they hear, and what they see around them. It’s essentially a time when a child begins the process of learning and understanding — but can we hold them responsible for their actions at this delicate age? For instance, around this time, kids often start lying, or end up mistakenly hurting their friends while playing, actions considered completely normal in their development. Actions, that don’t generally accompany a motive.