Confronting Sexual Harassment 

Chelsey Williams

  • April 14, 2021

Photo Obtained From Reni

Every 73 seconds there is yet another act of sexual assault committed in the United States. Sexual Assault Awareness Month is observed in April to educate individuals on respecting boundaries, preventing harassment, and supporting those sexually assaulted. This topic is not getting enough attention resulting in many individuals committing sexual assault/harassment and others not knowing how to deal with the aftermath. Schools and households must take the lead in educating students and children at a young age to build a foundation for them to be aware of this critical issue. 

 

An anonymous student described how they were harassed despite repeatedly expressing their discomfort.“This was in April of 2019. I was with a group of friends at the mall. All day, he had been making suggestive comments towards me, asking me to sit on his lap, and I kept saying no. Eventually, we got separated from the group, and he pushed me against a wall near a secluded area where no one could see, and he started groping my private area. I kept telling him to stop, and I kept saying no, but he wouldn’t listen. Eventually, he stopped, and then he just acted as nothing happened. I was too scared to tell my story publicly because when I told my friends about it, they said he would deny that he sexually harassed anyone. He did not respect my boundaries because even before he touched me, he was just making comments; he did not take me seriously when I said no and told him to stop.”

 

This individual’s experience applies to a much wider population of people. If more people choose to educate themselves on this crucial subject, experiences like theirs and many others would not be as common today. Schools and households can take the initiative to bring more awareness to sexual assault by implementing programs or simply informing their children and students how to respect others' privacy and personal space.  Nevertheless, arguments can be made that schools should not be addressing this social issue because it is too sensitive an issue to speak on, but due to how prevalent sexual assault is, it proves to be a social issue that affects not only adults but also teens and young adults in high school. Thus it must be addressed. 

 

The phrase "no means no" says it all, but people must also realize other ways to indicate and express discomfort. Sexual harassment can happen to anyone, no matter their gender identity. However, it is important to note that 91% of sexual assault victims are female, and 9% are male. Furthermore, 47% of transgender and non-binary people are sexually assaulted. Due to the immense amount of people affected, individuals can resort to taking measures to protect another or themselves in situations where they may be threatened. 

Although precautions can be taken to prevent harassment, it will never be the victims' fault when the offender chooses to commit the act. It is important not to undermine another person’s trauma based on the circumstances of their sexual encounter. The victim can never be held responsible for the offender's actions. A person's appearance does not give another permission to harass individuals sexually, whether it be verbally, online, or physically.  Countless unwanted sexual encounters can be avoided by becoming educated and learning not to step over another person's boundaries, which necessitates consent acquisition. All in all, Sexual Assault Awareness is not discussed enough in and out of the classroom, and not knowing this information can lead to far more harm for young teenagers than is already occurring. 

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