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Preventing sexual harassment in schools


Sexual harassment is a problem that occurs in schools across the country, whether in the cities or in the countryside, rich or poor, public or private, high schools or primary schools. The bad news is that sexual harassment can happen every day in your district. It can happen in the hallways, in the classrooms, in the lunchroom, on the playground, or in all the places where students gather and where they are adults. Sexual harassment is nothing new. It’s been like this for years, we just don’t call it “sexual harassment.” We ignore, deny and accept no responsibility for its impact on students and their ability to receive education in a safe environment without hostility. Actually, until recently, I didn’t see it as a problem in schools.

Due to court decisions regarding allegations of sexual harassment against school districts against students and adult staff, and now between students and students, school districts are placing more emphasis on developing policies and procedures to prohibit sexual harassment in the educational setting. However, policy-making is not enough without staff and students being aware of these policies and their implications. The fact is that sexual harassment is illegal both in the workplace and in educational settings. Students sexually harassed in schools are denied equal educational opportunity based on Title IX of the Education Amendment.

The latest national survey data available from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) reports called Hallway’s hostile. It showed that more than 81 percent of students (men and women) reported experiencing sexual harassment at school (1993). Contrary to popular belief, most students are sexually harassed by their peers, not adults.

Over the past two years, in training with hundreds of administrators, teachers and other staff, I have often asked participants if they know their school district’s policies and procedures for sexual harassment and if they Or what to do if students are sexually harassed. . For the most part, no hands are raised. Most participants are unaware that there are laws that protect students and staff from sexual harassment and that sexual harassment is illegal in the educational environment. Obviously, if adults in schools are not even aware that there is a policy to ban sexual harassment, how can we expect students to learn about sexual harassment and its prohibition?

The good news is that sexual harassment can be prevented. Teaching students mutual respect and good relations between and within the genders. Students may become more sensitive to one another and realize that abuse is itself degrading and humiliating. School districts can best demonstrate this to students by taking a stand and not tolerating bullying in any form. This can be achieved by raising awareness about sexism and prejudice and their impact on people, and through skills that teach students to stand up for themselves when faced with sexual, racial or religious bullying.

The rest of this article describes the integrated approach that a school district in Texas was willing to take an active stand against sexual harassment in schools. Some school districts have adopted a comprehensive approach, including teaching more than 24,000 staff and students how to avoid sexual harassment.

A Local Approach to Preventing Sexual Harassment

Last November, the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) received a request for training and technical assistance from an area of Texas to develop a comprehensive sexual harassment awareness plan across the entire region. offered to develop the approach. Sexual harassment among peers. The request came in response to a resolution by the Bureau of Civil Rights (OCR), which required the district to educate all students on: (1) what sexual harassment is; (2) what prohibitions on sexual harassment; and (3) what students can do if they are sexually harassed. The driving force behind this decision with OCR comes from a complaint to OCR from one of the families in the district. The school district was found to be Title IX compliant, but the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) required that it submit a detailed implementation plan within a specified time frame for training all students in kindergarten through 12th grade to prevent sexual harassment.

In an effort to comply with the Office for Civil Rights ruling, the district received targeted educational assistance to develop a training plan through IDRA’s Desegregation Assistance Center – South Central Collaborative (DAC-SCC), which provides training and technical assistance to school districts within a five-state area on issues related to race, national origin and gender equality. What started as an insurmountable challenge for the region, has actually turned into an opportunity to raise awareness across the region on the topic of sexual harassment by peers and how to prevent sexual harassment.

The first step was to help IDRA identify appropriate resources the district could use with students in the area of sexual assault prevention. List of recommended resources Including primary and secondary courses and commercial video tapes have been sent to district officials.

The second step in the process involved the formation of teams of people at the district level to carry out the planning and guidance of the training efforts in consultation with IDRA’s Gender Equality Coordinator. At the inaugural meeting, a group of district representatives discussed issues related to sexual harassment from peers, including a look at what national research and survey data say about the prevalence of sexual harassment from peers in our schools. They recommended steps to prevent sexual harassment. At this meeting a proposal for a plan concept, originally developed by the development staff

An eight-step approach

The following integrated approach has been highlighted.
1. Arrange a meeting with a select group of people, including the district’s title IX coordinator and nominee, selected campus directors, representatives of the district disciplinary committee, and selected council members and nurses. The meeting was designed to review all documents containing references to sexual harassment. These included school district-specific policies, procedures, and penalties contained in employee and student handbooks, as well as any references to parents. The purpose of the meeting was to review these documents to include clearly defined policies and procedures regarding sexual harassment and to note any significant inconsistencies or omissions.
2. Provide an overview of sexual harassment of peers to principals in each elementary and high school to: (a) increase their awareness of the prevalence of sexual harassment among students and the legal issues under Section IX; (b) review proposed changes and modifications to district policies, procedures, and sanctions following the first meeting of the Committee; (c) Discuss training and implementation plans for staff and students; and (d) provide information on parenting letters for upcoming awareness training for students.
3. Provide community outreach meetings to learn about the district’s plans to prevent sexual harassment in schools. The data range includes an overview of what the research says about sexual harassment among students. Presentation of courses and lessons for primary and secondary school students on sexual harassment and the possibility of questions and answers
4. Make an educational video for high school students about: (a) what sexual harassment is; (b) what conduct constitutes sexual harassment; (c) what are the prohibitions against sexual harassment; and (d) what you can do if you are being sexually harassed. The district audiovisual department produces videotapes and broadcasts on the secondary campuses of the district.
5. Provide four days of training to select representatives from each elementary and middle campus district using the Coach-Instructor approach. Agents are responsible for training staff on their campuses. and provide a range of information for students The team consists of the head of the campus and elected counselors, teachers and nurses. The content of the trainers’ sessions focused on the following: (a) an overview of the problem of peer sexual harassment; (b) what survey research data say about student sexual harassment; (c) additional curriculum and resources to teach students appropriate behavior; (d) policies, procedures and sanctions; and (e) demonstration of student learning. Each team on campus will then be responsible for developing their own training implementation plan based on the materials and resources identified. A team of elementary school counselors developed an introductory lesson suitable for the first years of elementary school and middle school, to be demonstrated in each training session. Elementary school campuses chose to train a team of nurses and counselors to conduct awareness sessions with elementary students.
6. Conduct sessions for deputy directors and facilitators to review sexual harassment, policies, procedures and sanctions. As many vice directors are responsible for implementing sanctions, the training plan includes the possibility of their input.
7. Include training and planning meetings for counselors, nurses, and social workers from across the district to anticipate possible disclosure and complaints about sexual harassment and other sexual harassment issues, including dating and incest violence. The purpose of this training is to provide an overview of all support staff who have not attended previous campus-wide training, to plan support efforts for students who have experienced sexual or other sexual harassment, and to provide counseling or other appropriate support – abuse.
8. It includes follow-up activities from the IDRA Gender Coordinator, including two days of observation and feedback on educational outreach sessions and feedback on training practices on campus.