8-Year-Old Faces Suspension From School Because She 'Smells Bad'

school busImagine being an 8-year-old girl in the second grade and you're told you smell by not only your classmates, but by your teachers. Can you imagine how sad that must make a child feel? How alone? A little girl in Washington County, Tennessee, is being told just that and she has been sent home from school for body odor 24 times so far. Her mother has taken the child to the doctor and there is no medical reason for the smell, but according to those at the school, the odor is so bad that students and teachers have said it makes them unable to concentrate.

I don't like bad smells. But I don't like shaming a child like this. There is nothing this little girl can do; and this is emotionally affecting her the most.

The 8-year-old's mom said, "She's been to the doctor and it's not a medical problem. They send her home at least once a month. You go to school to learn, not to be sent home." I couldn't agree with her more. Imagine how helpless this mom must feel.

Director of schools in Washington County, Ron Dykes, told WJHL.com that there is a chance the child will be suspended:

... to be quite frank the odor is so overpowering and extremely offensive to other children and adults so some sort of home bound program is used or the child will be removed temporarily from the school until the family complies.

I can't help but hurt for the little girl. There are always that cast of characters in every classroom. I remember when I was a kid that there was the "dirty" kid, the "messy" kid, the "wild" one, the one who picks her nose. But no one ever got sent home for any of those things. We were kids. Children. Children get stinky sometimes. This little girl is 8. Whatever the reason for her "odor" she doesn't deserved to feel alienated. This is the kind of embarrassment that kids never forget. It shapes them. How much damage is being done to this child from all of this? Shouldn't that concern override an odor issue?

If this type of school issue happened with my child, I'd feel helpless, particularly if I tried to figure out the issue and couldn't. What ever happened to tolerating each other even if it's "bothersome"? She's not hurting anyone, but this is all certainly hurting her.

What do you think of this story? Should the child be sent home and possibly suspended?


Image via bsabarnowl/Flickr

elementary school, girls, in the news


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

nonmember avatar blh

There's no excuse for being disgusting. How hard is it to take a damn shower and put some deodorant on?? I knew a girl like this in high school. You could smell her when she was behind you like 20 feet away. It was unbearable to be around her. You could tell she just didn't take a shower. Seriously how gross can you be??

BabyL... BabyLadyG12

I feel like we are missing a piece of the story.  Perhaps the girl does something to herself to make herself stink, and they can't get her to cut it out.  Perhaps the school has an additional issue with the child and this matter is being overblown to justify removing her from the classroom.  No pun intended, but something stinks here--there is definitely more to this story.

MomMo... MomMommyMomma

Regardless, she should be sent home. Either she needs deodorant, perfume, or a change of clothes at lunch. I'm not sure. Perhaps, her house is smelly and she carries the smell with her. Although it's "mean" to send her home, it's also "mean" to those around her to have to smell her. 


nonmember avatar Rory Gilmore

Sometimes children who are sexually abused make themselves smell worse to keep people away. Not saying that happened here, but I do agree that there is more to the story than we know. If this had happened when we were growing up, a teacher would have taken the child to clean up in the teachers lounge bathroom (even a sink washing would help). These days, you can't get involved like that for fear of lawsuits, so you just ignore the problem and send the child home. How sad.

Histo... HistoryMamaX3

Sometimes, in this world, it isn't about the individual. ALL those other kids deserve the same respect that this girl wants. They want and deserve to be in an environment where they can focus and learn. This girl, be it intentional or not, is causing some problem for the other kids and staff. Something has to be done! Until they can find some sort of 'cure' or remedy for the situation- it is best for her sake, and the other kids', for her to be removed.

I'd say, find a new doctor or have the parent realize that something bigger is going on!


lulou lulou

I think this is a case where there are simple solutions, but where those solutions cost money.  If hygeine needs to be taught and monitored in the home, years ago a public nurse probably could have gone in an done that.  LIkely thats been cut.  Other social service workers have more serious cases also to worry about, but maybe missing so many days of school, will put the girl over this mark to get her into some public program.  Or by bringing this to the publics attention, a community organization will step in.  Im thinking this more has to do with the parents standards.

teddy... teddysmama09

I'm wondering what kind of body odor they are referring to. If she's going through puberty at a young age it could be either her arm pits or "feminine odor" (Thats the politest way I can think of to put that, but I'm sure you all know what I mean). Then there's  that garbage smell which some kids have when they come from extremely dirty homes and are not bathed regularely, but thats not something you would ask a doctor about; it's pretty obvious.

If the parents really are doing everything they can and the child is still emmiting a foul odor which is affecting her and the other students, then I think it's time to concider homeschooling. It seems unfair to her to put her in that humiliating situation every day when home school is an option. I really feel bad for the poor kid, I hope she finds a cure before highschool.

nonmember avatar Trish

I really feel bad for this child and I feel like she is being failed by the adults around her. I too think something is missing from this story - the article never mentions what the home environment is like or if anyone has even inspected it. There has got to be an explanation for it and it's up to the adults around her to help figure out a solution. If teachers and school officials have sent her home because the foul odor is a distraction, then you know it is bad. And unfortunately if this issue is not taken care of I completely agree with keeping the child out of school and maybe going with homeschooling. Not only is it an unwelcome and unpleasant distraction for others, but this little girl is probably being humiliated on a daily basis. It's best to get her out of the situation if a solution cannot be found.

emmieh emmieh

There are medical conditions- problems with metabolizing proteins and such- that cause a bad, fishy odor. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trimethylaminuria 

I knew a girl in school who had this problem...

lalab... lalaboosh

If there is no medical reason for the smell it's a parenting issue for sure. Teachers are mandatory reporters, why isn't CPS dealing with this?

1-10 of 399 comments 12345 Last