The dictionary defines sexual harassment as “behavior characterized by the making of unwelcome and inappropriate sexual remarks or physical advances in a workplace or other professional or social situation.” Many people get sexually harassed at least once in their lifetime. They may not realize it, but they have been or will be.
I asked multiple students at Eastern Montgomery High School about their experiences and thoughts about sexual harassment. One particular student gave a powerful response, “It’s hard mentally to do things when stuff like sexual harassment happens, and we can’t talk to anyone about it because nothing ever gets done. And the phrase ‘just talk to me’ is worthless because why would I talk to someone who doesn’t listen.” This is unfortunate when students feel like they have no where to turn. In addition, it has to be hard to focus on your classwork when you were just touched or talked to in the wrong way 10 minutes earlier.
Telling people about it doesn’t help either when nothing gets done about it. Yes, some teachers will actually do something about it, but from there nothing further happens. The person who is accused of harassing gets spoken to and sent on their way to repeat the same sexual comments and acts again. In my opinion, students should be held more accountable for their actions and need more serious consequences.
Related to sexual harassment, is the enforcement of school dress codes. Many students I interviewed were mad about the school dress code. Another female student who wished to be off the record stated, “It shouldn’t be a problem with what we wear; we aren’t distracting. What the boys do to us is way more distracting than any shirt or pair of shorts I could wear.”
I learned that more students feel harassed during the day than we think happens around schools. Another student who wanted to remain anonymous stated, “Every day I get to hear comments about my butt and what people think about it. I’m sick of people demeaning me; I hate my body. It feels like no one takes me seriously, and it’s not my fault I have the body I do. It’s what I was born with.” I’ve heard rumors of serious misconduct, but female students do not feel comfortable telling anyone about it.
Take a minute to think about what a world would be like without these harassing, derogatory comments, actions, and behaviors. It may not be a perfect world, but it would be way better than where we are now.