What To Do If Your Tween/Teen Is Being Sexually Harassed At School

Sexual harassment word cloud concept

I would love to be able to say that its rare to meet a woman that has never had a man make an inappropriate comment or treat her differently because of her gender. I am hopeful that things like #MeToo and TimesUp will make a difference but like any change it is slow moving. In high school I had a teacher that administrators received countless complaints about. He was a science teacher and had a temperature controlled classroom which was always freezing. Female students were not allowed to wear jackets in his class and had to sit up front. He would make endless comments about his students breasts. We had an absolutely appalling moving company this past Spring, basically call us every name in the book that I know with complete certainty would never have happened if we were men. I could list many other examples that I have personally experienced unfortunately.

I was disheartened to realize that as much as things change, somethings remain the same. My daughter is 12-years-old and had a teacher this year that was beyond inappropriate. She has a shirt that reads “Virginity Rocks.” I give my daughter the freedom to express herself in whatever clothing that she chooses as long as it respects the school dress code. Now previous to the purchase, I did warn her that the shirt was a conversation starter and that she may get comments from other students. If anything I expected her to possibly be told that she couldn’t wear it at school but instead her teacher asked her where it was purchased. He proceeded to tell her it would be good for his roommate. He told her that the shirt was “cool at 12, okay at 16, and just sad at 24.” She also wore a shirt that read: Hopeless Romantic. He proceeded to tell her that she was sending mixed signals. My hope in 2020 is that progress is really made in rape culture and that the understand really is that no woman’s clothing is meant to send anyone a signal (especially when the woman is a 12-year-old) . When my daughter sat in the lap of a male student, while sharing a computer, he proceeded to call the student a pimp as to congratulate him for my daughter’s attention. When the teacher was confronted he advised that he was joking. I didn’t find any of his comments remotely funny and had my daughter removed from his classroom.

If you find yourself in a similar suggestion, this is my advise to you:

Document Everything and Keep Correspondence To Email

If you ever have any concerns about behavior between students, or between your child and a staff member always reach out to the teacher, then principal and lastly the school board. If verbally bringing up your concerns there can be a denial that conversations happened so email keeps everyone honest. In our situation the teacher took no responsibility for his behavior, the administration denied the concerns being verbally communicated and the school board didn’t even respond to my complaint.

Go to the PAC/DPAC/BCCPAC

Despite how it may feel sometimes, their role in the school is actually not just fundraising and actually to help you best advocate for your child. If you feel like your child is the only one who has had this experience, they may know of other similar situations and loop in appropriate staff members to help get a reasonable conclusion to the situation. PAC can help at a school level, DPAC can help at a district level and BCCPAC would be at a provincial level.

Contact Police

Depending on the severity of the situation, it is a good idea to report inappropriate behavior involving minors to the authorities. I wouldn’t necessarily expect criminal charges to come from it but if the behavior escalates or more students become victims of the same person than it may help others not have to go through a situation where they are not believed.

Report Online at ERASE Bullying

If the inappropriate behavior is happening between students, ERASE bullying does have an online reporting tool where children or families can report inappropriate behaviour. They also have many different resources on their website.

Contact The Media

If you have documented proof of the harassment or have proof that your concerns are falling on deaf ears than I recommend looping in your local media. Customer service doesn’t always exist person-to-person anymore so a media outlet asking the school board why these are being ignored or if you have a post go viral it can be the fastest way to make a positive change happen.

I sincerely hope that you or your child never experiences sexual harassment or harassment of any type but if you find yourself or your child in a situation facing something similar I really hope these tips help you.

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