Sexual harassment is a crucial topic for schools and their staff. Every 73 seconds, an American is sexually harassed. And 15% of those victims are under the age of 17. Stories vary from students sharing scoreboards to verbal abuse to rumors spread online. According to the American Association of University Women, four in five students reported sexual harassment in grades 8 through 11. Other reports state that 46% of students in grades 7 to 12 experience some sort of sexual harassment. Furthermore, technological advancements bring new types of sexual harassment. With the coronavirus pandemic, schools depend on technology more than ever. This means it’s more important than ever to protect students from sexual harassment in schools and online.
What Is Considered Sexual Harassment in Schools?
First, it’s important to understand the difference between teasing and sexual harassment. The Department of Education defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome sexual conduct that can potentially affect a student’s participation in school. It can come from a student’s peers or staff. Sexual harassment affects students of all genders. Harassment can take different forms, varying from inappropriate touching of a student to sexual rumors spread about the victim.
How Does Sexual Harassment in Schools Affect Students?
Sexual harassment leads to drastic educational and psychological consequences for the victim. A study found that the 62% of teens who reported sexual harassment also report an increase of depression and anxiety. Sexual harassment has also been tied to higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide. If a student is experiencing harassment, they will most likely want to withdraw from school. Thus, harassment creates an unsafe learning environment and therefore harms a student’s education.
How Can Administrators Stop Sexual Harassment in Schools?
Administrators are responsible for the protection of their students. It is crucial for staff to understand and watch for the signs of sexual harassment and quickly report them. Schools should form policies against such harassment as well as have a Title IX coordinator. Schools should also be proactive in teaching students about identifying sexual harassment. By explaining the importance of this to both students and their families, administrators can prevent harassment from occurring in the first place.
When students learn remotely, schools are still responsible for their protection. Monitoring software, such as LearnSafe, ensures a safe virtual schooling environment. Easily installed on PCs, Macs, and Chromebooks, LearnSafe detects risky behavior online and offline. LearnSafe alerts administrators to incidents of sexual harassment on school computers, allowing them to intervene.
Text by Kassie Roberts