Futuristic Criminal Investigations-Part XVI

Sexual harassmentImage via Wikipedia

Specializing In Forensic
 Child Sexual Abuse 

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

What will the future hold for the students in middle school and high school? Is sexual harassment currently a problem for students who attend such institutions? So many questions and no answers to the problem, if you believe there is indeed sexual harassment as a problem in the middle to high school institutional range.  In my previous articles I wrote about the serious nature of sexual harassment not only in the middle to high school levels but how pervasive it is in the elementary school levels.

Today, a study presented by Dr. Catherine Hill and Holly Kearl of American Association of University of Women provided their findings in a project they conducted. The project surrounded a look into the current, 2010-2011 middle and high school sexual harassment level and if there is indeed a problem. Their findings support my earlier writings about how major of a problem is sexual harassment in the schools today. Their findings are as follows: 

1.      48 percent of students in grades 7-12 experienced some form of sexual harassment in person or electronically via texting, email and social media.
2.      The survey, conducted in May and June asked 1,002 girls and 963 boys from public and private schools nationwide whether they had experienced any of various forms of sexual harassment.
3.      In all, 56 percent of the girls and 40 percent of the boys said they had experienced at least one incident of sexual harassment during the school year.
4.      In a previous study on sexual harassment conducted by the American Association of University of Women, 1993 and 2001, the findings were that more than 80 percent of the students reported experiencing sexual harassment at least once in their school career.
5.      According to Bill Bond, a former high school principal who is a school safety expert for the National Association of Secondary School Principals, “Words can cut a kid all the way to the heart. When it’s on the computers and cell phones, there’s no escape. It’s absolutely devastating and vicious to a kid.”

The problem according to the American Association of University of Women has presented the idea that this problem has been a problem for decades if not centuries. So if the problem was at the 80% level at 1993, then at 2001 and now at 2010-2011 demonstrates that as a society the sexual harassment occurring in private and public school systems hasn’t declined and there are no easy answers to resolve this problem in the future, at least at this time.

How do we stop students from groping other students as they walk to class? How do we get students to quit calling other students names who may be different “gay” and “faggot”? Rumors are plentiful as the Internet has many social networking available to those who want to attack another student. It is the 7 x 7 x 7 mentality, that once the targeted student is encircled by one student the rest jump on the bandwagon and begin the degradation process which is heartless and sometimes criminal.

So where can we help the future generation of students who are entering elementary school from becoming victims of harassment? Like anything else if students at the early grade level are taught about the damage that sexual harassment causes, they may stop the process before it begins. If sexual harassment is a breeding ground at the early grades, there must be aggressive steps taken against the sexual bullier to stop them before they begin; or discipline them when the police, school and parental authorities are made aware that this is occurring.

Many students after being sexual harassed have taken their own lives. The research to date has been minimized because the reporting that a student took their own life because of being harassed is just in its infancy stage. Until the authorities find ways to document the reason(s) for the student’s death was harassment from other students, the problem will not be properly documented or dealt with.

There needs to be strategies developed to stop students harassing other students. Here are some suggested prevention methods, techniques and strategies?

1.      The first step is to educate students from the first day they enter the educational institution. Students who are informed about the ramifications of sexual harassment will lay positive foundations with their relationships and relationships with other students, especially those of the opposite sex.
2.      The second step is to teach students at an early age what steps they can take to prevent the sexual harassment from occurring. Some sexual harassment is seen as initially humorous and then moves to unwanted touching. Stopping the sexual bullier from moving a conversation from humor to unwanted touching needs to be dealt with before the situation turns from laughter to sexual touching. Sexual bulliers need to be dealt with quickly and told no that their behavior is unacceptable by the potential victim.
3.      The third step, if reported, the sexual bullier needs to be attended to immediately. Discipline needs to be met with aggressive consequences. Stepping over the boundaries of relationships can’t be minimized. A loud and strong message that sexual harassment will not be tolerated i.e. zero tolerance needs to be established in each educational setting.
4.      The fourth step, is reporting sexual harassment needs to be given a different meaning then the word “snitch”.  Students need to be proud that they need to, want to, should without any doubt, report if they were a victim of sexual harassment and/or a witness to it.
5.      The fifth step, is parents need to expend time with their children explaining the rules of the game when it comes to harassing another human being for whatever reason. Moreover, what the consequences will be for such behavior.
6.      The sixth step, is schools need to have a zero tolerance reference a student’s inappropriate behavior. When reports begin pouring in, immediate action needs to be taken. The school authorities need to take the reports seriously and deal with it to the extreme; believing they will prevent harm and death from occurring.
7.      The seventh step, is law enforcement needs to begin an aggressive identification, apprehension and prosecution of anyone who commits unwanted touching of any form and prosecute them to the fullest of the law.
8.      The eighth step, is society needs to take a step into the future and put a sign out to all that harassment of any kind will not be tolerated. Additionally, that any kind of touching will not be tolerated. It takes the behavior of adults to mold the children of tomorrow either into human beings who care about one another or a potential criminal.  

Tomorrow, it is important for us to identify what the future holds for law enforcement and the community about why there is prevalence in children being targeted as a sex object and what should be done about it. Avenues of disclosure to authority figures need to be promoted and safety needs to be the number one priority. Society needs to assist law enforcement in protecting children from being harassed, molested, and/or raped. No one should be allowed to cross these boundaries and anyone who does cross the line needs to be prosecuted without any hesitation from those responsible in putting sexual offenders in jail.

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