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A nine-year-old boy in New York has received a two-day suspension from school because he stuck a "Kick me" sign on a classmate's back, the New York Post reports.

The boy's mom told the newspaper that the classic schoolyard prank was just an instance of "playing around." But a parent who asked to remain anonymous called it "maliciousness - it's not kid's play."

Authorities at the fourth-grader's Upper East Side school agreed that such behaviour is indeed not child's play. After the incident took place in January, the principal sent the boy's parents a letter informing them that the act constituted "engaging in bullying behaviour" and therefore "will result in a Principal's Suspension for a period of two days."

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Bullying in New York schools has been banned since 2008, so the suspension may have been unavoidable.

"School authorities might not have the leeway to do things differently," Richard Gallagher, the director of the Parenting Institute at New York University's Child Study Center told the newspaper.

"We have to be careful about zero tolerance and how it gets implemented," he added. "Teasing behaviours are pretty typical. But the boundary between teasing and bullying is different."

What do you think: harmless schoolyard play or act of bullying?

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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