Posts Tagged ‘sexual harassment’

Sexual Harassment Rampant in Schools

November 7, 2011

Just when you thought that respect for girls and women was on the marked improve comes yet another reminder that things are not what they seem:

During the 2010-11 school year, 48 percent of students in grades 7-12 experienced some form of sexual harassment in person or electronically via texting, email and social media, according to a major national survey being released Monday by the American Association of University Women.

 The harassers often thought they were being funny, but the consequences for their targets can be wrenching, according to the survey. Nearly a third of the victims said the harassment made them feel sick to their stomach, affected their study habits or fueled reluctance to go to school at all.

The survey, conducted in May and June, asked 1,002 girls and 963 boys from public and private schools nationwide whether they had experienced any of various forms of sexual harassment. These included having someone make unwelcome sexual comments about them, being called gay or lesbian in a negative way, being touched in an unwelcome sexual way, being shown sexual pictures they didn’t want to see, and being the subject of unwelcome sexual rumors.

The survey quoted one ninth-grade girl as saying she was called a whore “because I have many friends that are boys.” A 12th-grade boy said schoolmates circulated an image showing his face attached to an animal having sex.

In all, 56 percent of the girls and 40 percent of the boys said they had experienced at least one incident of sexual harassment during the school year.

After being harassed, half of the targeted students did nothing about it. Of the rest, some talked to parents or friends, but only 9 percent reported the incident to a teacher, guidance counselor or other adult at school, according to the survey.

In my view there are two main reasons for this disturbing set of figures:

1.  Schools have become hamstrung when it comes to access to appropriate and effective consequences for infringements such as bullying and harassment.  Call the parents?  No big deal.  They gave up long ago.  Suspensions?  Nowadays you get a suspension for talking out of turn.  Suspensions have lost their impact because they are metered out out too readily.  In the end, no punishment given seems to come close to matching the crime.

2.  Schools have been notorious at turning a blind eye to incidents.  I am not talking about all schools, yet in truth, plenty goes under this category.  Teachers have been taught not to get emotionally involved with their students.  The result being, an emotional distance which inhibits the teachers capacity to pick up on these things,  Teachers must have enough of a connection with their students (within the obvious professional parameters of course), as to notice when things are not right with their them.  They are intrusted to look after their students and must do so by being proactive.  Kids are told from an early age not to dob on a classmate.  If teachers wait around for things to get reported to them, they will miss the opportunity to intervene and change a potentially abusive situation.

We must expect schools to be proactive with harassment.  They must be able to use tough and uncompromising punishments and show enough of an interest in students as to detect a problem before it gets completely out of hand.

The Hugging Rule: Another Example of Running Schools Like Prisons

November 4, 2011

There is a huge difference between hugging someone because they are your friend and sexual harassment.  It is not hard to distinguish one from the other.

Friends hugging innocently in the playground in no way prevents schools from punishing children for sexual harassment.

A 14-year-old Florida student who hugged his friend was suspended as a result of his middle school’s zero-tolerance no-hugging policy.

Nick Martinez said he gave a quick hug to his best friend, a female student, between classes, WKMG-TV reported.

The public display of affection was spotted by the principal of Palm Bay’s Southwest Middle School, which is 120km south-east of Orlando. While the principal told WKMG-TV he believed the hug was innocent, he brought the two students to the school’s dean, who penalised them with in-school suspensions.

According to the Southwest Middle School’s student handbook, students can receive a one-day out-of-school suspension for kissing, while students caught hugging or hand-holding are penalised with a dean’s detention or suspension.

The school’s strict policy stipulates that there is no difference between an unwanted hug, or sexual harassment, and a hug between friends, WKMG-TV reported.

What measures like this do, is transform schools which are already unnatural places for children and make them even more dreary and dictatorial.  The irony is, that while bullying continues to be a major problem, you would have though that acts of friendship would be encouraged, not outlawed.
What’s next – banning students from complimenting each other?
It’s about time we started matching school bans on children by imposing bans on schools.  I would love to ban schools from implementing rules inspired by political correctness gone wrong!

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