Point: Is sexual harassment being discussed enough at Schreiber?

Asher Charno, Contributing Writer

Recently, cases involving sexual harassment have become more prevalent in the news.  With the rise of the #MeToo movement, this topic has become one of the most controversial issues in our mainstream media.

After its founding in 2006, the #MeToo movement has raised awareness and supported the brave survivors who revealed their own stories pertaining to sexual violence.  The movement’s mission is to “address both the dearth of resources for survivors of sexual violence and to build a community of advocates, driven by survivors, who will be at the forefront of creating solutions to interrupt sexual violence in their communities.”

In the past decade, #MeToo has been an instrumental role in organizing marches nationwide, and empowering men and women alike to speak out against sexual assault.  However, does raising awareness nationally still have an impact on our local student body at Schreiber?

As a whole, the student body of Schreiber high school is ill-informed about this topic, largely because it is scarcely discussed in the classroom.  Even in the health curriculum, this important issue is rarely covered.  

Sexual assault is not a part of the ninth grade class, but the topic is covered for a one-day lesson in eleventh grade in addition to a two-day lesson with Safe Center L.I., a non-profit organization focusing on domestic violence.

While this is better than nothing, three days of lessons in junior health class is not enough to cover a topic as detrimental as sexual assault.  Since this issue is becoming increasingly more prevalent, it is necessary to further incorporate the topic of sexual assault and the trauma it causes into health curriculum, particularly in the freshman health class program.

It is essential for the Schreiber student body to become more aware, and to take action, in order to aid those who are suffering.  Unfortunately, there is currently very little effort being put into educating students about sexual harassment.

Even though classes do not cover sexual violence, numerous students still want to be socially active.  Members of the Women Empowerment Club have strong opinions regarding this topic.

“It is a pressing topic and should not be ignored. I believe if people are more educated about sexual harassment, it can be prevented in more cases,” said senior Vicki Galvez.

Students should not be the only ones in the school advocating for the discussion of sexual harassment.  It is essential that the administration and faculty as a whole joins the cause.

The first step to increase education about sexual harassment is to define the term.

“Harassment can include sexual harassment or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature,” according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Harassment can interfere with schoolwork or one’s ability to participate in extracurricular activities and even attend classes.  This problem is more common within the school environment than one might think.  

Since so many students are too scared or embarrassed to report sexual harassment, statistics seem skewed.  This is why the importance of educating students about what sexual violence is, and how to deal with it, cannot be stressed enough.

There are numerous ways to get involved on a local level to try and stop sexual assault.  For example, the Women’s Empowerment Club opens up a forum for discussion about this topic, and helps students take action.

In order to make sure incidents of sexual harassment can be avoided, Schreiber needs to discuss the issue in greater depth, specifically in a safe classroom environment.