By Fanny Zhao ’19 and Mohima Oishe ’19
After several sexual misconduct accusations about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, the #MeToo movement was born on Twitter as a way for women to share their experiences of sexual harassment or assault. The movement allowed thousands of people, both men and women, to open up on a taboo topic that many people think needs to be addressed more frequently.
However, sexual harassment don’t just happen in Hollywood. Almost half of all students in America experience sexual harassment. According to Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School, a report by Catherine Hill and Holly Kearl, 40 to 50 percent of high school students say they have experienced some form of sexual harassment.
May of the Midwood students we spoke to had either experienced sexual harassment or knew a student who had.
“Sexual harassment should not happen to anyone, neither guys nor girls,” said Nursat Jahan ’19. “It’s a frightening experience.”
Jahan recalls an incident when a female student in her elementary school was groped by a male student. The female student reported it to the teacher, and the boy was suspended.
According to the National Sex Offender Public Website, or NSOPW, approximately 1.8 million adolescents in the United States have been victims of sexual abuse.
“I felt annoyed and disgusted when I was catcalled at the bus stop, since people think it’s okay to say inappropriate things to strangers,” said Jeanelle Louie ’19. “There really wasn’t much I could do to stand up for myself since I was alone and the person was much older than me, making me inferior and vulnerable.”
According to teenhelp.com, a website that helps adolescents maintain a good mental health, one in five men are sexually abused in their lifetime. However, according to the
findings of U.S. Department of Defense, about 87 percent of males who were attacked did not report the situation and this is partly due to the gender stereotype that males have to be tough all the time and that “real men” can never be assaulted.
“Men don’t speak out about it because they think it’s shameful and end up never getting the help they need and deserve,” said Carlos Gomez ’19. “When I was harassed, I didn’t know what to do about it and I think that’s a major problem.”
Speaking out is the best thing to do after being harassed. About 80 percent of sexual assaults go unreported, according to the article “Sexual Assaults Greatly Underreported” by Tony Gonzalez from USA Today.
“If the attacker isn’t properly admonished, they’d be allowed to continue to go through society and potentially continue their past acts on more victims,” said Jafrin Uddin ’19. “One less sexual offender on the streets, several more safe girls and boys.”
Many things equate to sexual harassment, such as experiencing catcalling, being followed, sexual advances, groping or fondling, others exposing themselves, etc. There is a noticeable emotional toll that can affect school performance and experience after being in these situations. Based on Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School, 32 percent of harassed students said they did not want to go to school as a result of the sexual harassment.
“You have the right to feel safe in school,” said Ms. Kendra Lane, a guidance counselor at Midwood. “These problems need to be addressed, so it’s important to tell an adult you are comfortable with, like a dean, a teacher, or the social workers we have at Midwood.”
Any student who feels she or he is being harassed for any reason should speak to an adult they feel comfortable with, a guidance counselor, or even a secretary. Midwood has
a zero tolerance policy for sexual harrassment. If it happens in the school bulding, the deans handle the situation and parents will be notified. It would be up to them to contact the police.