Sexual Harassment in Schools
When it comes to attending school most students and teachers alike do not expect to be victim of sexual harassment, sadly however, sexual harassment is far more common in schools than anyone would like to admit.
What is Sexual Harassment?
When it comes to sexual harassment of any kind, you should first understand a bit about sexual harassment and what it specifically entails. In laymen’s terms, sexual harassment is any type of untoward advance that has sexual undertones. This can be something as simple as a remark that is unsavory to something as intense as touching. When it comes to sexual harassment, you should first be able to define the behavior that is making you uncomfortable then be able to pinpoint how to make it stop. It is important that you understand just what harassment is and what you as a victim can do about it.
What Can We Do About Sexual Harassment?
In more cases than not you will be directed to the head of the human resources department of your business or workplace. In the event that the harassment happens at school, you will likely be asked to relate your story to the administrators and figure out how to set the record straight. In most cases, sexual harassment really comes down to he said she said and without solid proof, the most that a harasser will get is a stern reprimand or write up. In cases where there is proof however, the consequences are much more dire.
Harassment in Schools
When it comes to sexual harassment in schools there are a few different types that you can think about. Teacher abuse is far more common than you might imagine or want to admit. In most cases where a teacher abuses student, this type of accusation is taken very seriously. In these cases, it is important that students have some measure of proof and that the school board can then take the time to build a case and investigate what is going on. There are three different levels of harassment that a student may withstand and knowing a bit about each is the best way to deal with it and to avoid it all together.
Teacher Harassing Student
The first type of harassment is the most basic. This is things like remarks about the appearance of the student, about what the teacher thinks of the student, looks, and any type of behavior that makes the student uncomfortable or that has a sexual undertone. Generally, when this behavior is caught early enough, the teacher will get a reprimand, maybe counseling, and they will often be suspended for a time. This allows the school a chance to correct the behavior before it goes beyond remarks and looks to something more physical and more punishable by law. This is still very serious and this type of accusation should not be made without some measure of certainty.
Teacher Touching Student
The next level of harassment is of course actual touching. This could be something like an inappropriate touch on the shoulder to touching other areas. This is very serious and often this type of misconduct results in the firing of the offending teacher and maybe even criminal prosecution. Again, this type of harassment is very serious and you should never make false accusations. This type of behavior is often remedied with counseling, firing, and even criminal charges in the cases of parents that feel they want to prosecute.
Teacher Forces Student to Have Sex
The last and most serious level is of course when intercourse is occurring. This can be any type of sex, oral, anal, or vaginal. This is often the most serious type of harassment and it is always prosecuted by law even if the student does not want to press charges. There have been plenty of cases where students have had sexual relationships with students and have been prosecuted. This is by far the most serious and is often a type of harassment that has gone on longer than the students even know. Often, when a teacher resorts to forced sex, they have offended more than once and will have to register as a sex offender.
Teacher sexually harassed by student
On the flipside, students can also be the harassers. In most cases, this type of harassment is only seen in high school and college settings. In these cases, a student will often tell a teacher that they are interested or they will express interest that results in misconduct. Now this is a bit sketchy when it comes to prosecution for a few different reasons. Often, teachers that have sex with students that are at the legal age of consent will argue that the relationship is consensual and therefore not prosecutable by law. In many instances, the parents of the minor will still press charges and even if the charges do not stick, the school will still fire the teacher.
One famous case that everyone heard about regarding sexual relationships between students and teachers is that of Mary Kay Lotourneau. This teacher had what she claimed was a consensual relationship with a minor student that resulted in a child that was born in prison. Though the two were separated and she was fired, when the boy became of legal age they married while she was in prison. He claims that they are in love while his family claims that she brainwashed him and forced him to have sex with her. This case was highly televised and she was convicted of improper acts with a minor.
Other Types of Harassment
Though sexual harassment is the first that comes to mind, there are other ways that teachers and students alike can harass one another while at school. The most common is of course bullying. This can take part on the behalf of the teacher bullying the student, the student bullying the teacher, and even the parent bullying the teacher. This type of harassment is more common than you might think and occurs on a daily basis in some schools. In these cases, you may not be able to prosecute by law unless the harassment becomes physical and harmful, but there are other ways to handle it. First off, if you feel like you or your child is being harassed by a teacher, you should first address the principle or administrative staff. Though it may seem like the best idea to address the teacher specifically, this can often lead to confrontation and more trouble. You should talk to the administration and allow them to sort out the issue. If it is still not resolved, you may need to take further action like moving your child, talking to the teacher, or other action if you feel your child is in danger.
Though harassment of all types is inevitable in most parts of society, we can work together to keep it out of schools. Schools are meant to be safe places where our children can learn and flourish and with the proper care and attention to detail, anyone can prevent and stop harassment quickly and easily. Knowing what harassment is and how to identify it is only half the battle.