Step Up And Be Aware

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Step Up And Be Aware

Noor Raza, Staff

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Sexual harassment is a topic that doesn’t really come up in regular conversations. Students that are even victims often don’t talk about it either. When and how to address it should be heavily stressed in school. When does it go past the line of flirting? When should you say no? If you’ve been the subject of unwanted offensive sexual jokes, is it considered sexual harassment?  

Fun fact: It is, but if you didn’t know, you probably didn’t do anything about it. Maybe you gave yourself the excuse that “boys will be boys” and let it slide. But maybe it shouldn’t have been pushed aside so easily. Maybe there should be more awareness of the issue in schools.  

Sadly, sexual harassment in school is common. Many students experience harassment in one form or another. It’s just the matter of if they address it or not.  

“I’ve been cat-called a lot. I’ve had my butt slapped in school. I wasn’t scared to call them out on it, I just didn’t know who did it. But most of the time, people fear standing up,” senior Sadie Marks expressed. 

Many people are afraid to stand up to sexual harassment. This is especially shown in accounts of rape, something that is a very serious topic and sometimes isn’t even addressed. 

“I think there’s this thing where people feel they can’t speak up. I had a friend who was legitimately raped, but she was too scared to say anything on it,” junior Solomon Robin shared. 

Robin’s friend was a victim to rape. She was emotionally and physically scarred, and she could have acted on it. She could’ve reported the rapist but was too afraid to. Schools should talk about harassment in school so that students know they are not alone.  

“My friend was taken somewhere, and these guys basically undressed her. They did horrible stuff. These kids sexually harassed her. She came in crying many times, and you could really tell she was going through something, ” senior Lauren Pollock described.  

In severe cases like the one Pollock describes, action must be taken.  

“I’ve had students come to me to report sexual harassment. I encourage students to write a statement which I share with the grade level administrator. The administrator will then address the behavior with the student who committed the harassment which usually involves a consequence and parent contract,”  counselor Brittiany Watkins explains.  

Sexual harassment can and should be reported. It’s an offense no matter how minor it may seem, from inappropriately touching someone to unwanted comments about a person’s body. Students should not be scared to report such incidents.  

“On average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States,” reported RAINN. 321,500 victims yearly. This number exists when it should not. Awareness of this issue should be spread as much as it can because the number of victims per year is way too high. It shouldn’t be taken lightly.  

“The assembly last school year on diversity really got to students; therefore, we should have an assembly addressing sexual harassment. Our administration should talk about ways to prevent it and, if does happen, obviously, how to speak up about it,” junior Allison Smock explained.  

Assemblies are a great way to present useful information and at the same time keep the attention of the students. So are in-class discussions. 

“We could include the topic in Comet Culture lessons or school counselor guidance lessons. We could also start an after school club that focuses on education and empowerment,” Ms. Watkins shared.  

Awareness of this issue should be spread as much as it can be. Any activity that helps empower victims to stand up to forms of harassment is a good activity. 

It shouldn’t be a subject we feel ashamed or hesitant to talk to about. Being open and talking about such things may allow other victims to step up. If more people step up, more awareness is spread, and maybe one day we’ll live in a world where it’ll be harder for these incidents to occur.