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Society struggles with harassment news

Drawing by Mason Loy

Drawing by Mason Loy

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The squeak of the marker on the whiteboard is the only sound in the room as students furiously try to follow the math teacher’s intricate notes. One student, however, sits motionless, eyes unfocused on the task in front of her. All she can think about is the recent incident, and how everyone around her must already know. Maybe it would be best to leave; she feels sick already. She needs to let it out, but who can she talk to when they will all question her actions first?

When it comes to harassment, especially of a sexual nature, society has a tendency to place the blame on the wrong party. According to Amnesty International, 33% of women between the ages of 18-55 had experienced online abuse or harassment at least once. More often than not, the immediate response is to ask questions such as ‘what were they wearing?’ or ‘were they asking for it?’ This often places pressure on the victims to provide solid evidence other than just their word, and that can be difficult.

“We have a culture that accepts harassment […] I just don’t understand it…” Mrs. Dawna Ross expressed.

Historically, the power balance has been known to shift in favor of men. As a result, women do not feel safe enough to share their experiences. Society often tends to side with the harasser and interrogate the harassed.

“Males had the power, females did not… You look at the government, how many males there are to females… you’re getting more females but it’s not like it’s 50/50 by any means… we have a long way to go, I would say,” Mr. Steve Alexander shared.

Though it may seem as if society tolerates sexual harassment, this is often not the case.

“Actually I think a majority of people don’t have an opinion that’s wrong, I think they have a reaction that’s wrong,” Mrs. Ross said. “I think their reaction is that they don’t know how to react… I don’t think most people are in favor of sexual harassment…they just don’t know what to do.”

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in 2017 out of nearly 12500 sexual harassment cases that were reported, only 7500 ended in a resolution.

So how does society put a stop to this problem? Mrs. Ross believes the best way to address the issue is to educate kids and teens early on. This would teach them what is right and wrong, and would provide them with tools if they ever encounter harassment of any kind.

In light of the recent sexual harassment allegations, administration is working on more digital citizenship awareness. This includes digital citizenship lessons to educate students, parent education, and a new social media policy.

Mrs. Ross believes that schools should also establish a support system so that students feel comfortable discussing such issues.

Mr. Alexander explained “If something happens, I would hope that people feel strong enough or feel they have enough support that they would be able to come forward and say something. I hope that our school has that kind of climate… that’s what I hope, but I’m not saying we’re there yet…”

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Society struggles with harassment news