K-12 Sexual Assault in the Media

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Each school day, when students should be benefitting from a safe and healthy school environment conducive to learning, sexual harassment, assault, and other forms of intimidation compromise their lives at alarming rates. Sexual harassment/assault impair students’ ability to concentrate, compromise their education, cause dropping out, and lead to self-destructive behaviors and suicide.

gaystarHere are some excerpted facts on the effects of sexual harassment from the National Women’s Law Center: Read More

To illustrate, a recent survey found that nearly one-third (32 percent) of students who experienced harassment reported not wanting to go to school as a result of the harassment, and girls were more likely than boys to report harassment affecting them in this way. Sex-based harassment can be very damaging to the lives of women and girls, both in its emotional impact and in its impact on their education. Feeling unsafe at school has been correlated with declining academic performance, skipping school, and dropping out.

Sex-based harassment continues into middle and high school. In a nationwide survey of students in grades 8-11, 81 percent reported experiencing sexual harassment during their school lives. And in a recent survey of 7-12th grade students, nearly half (48 percent) experienced some form of sexual harassment during the 2010-11 school year, with a vast majority of those students (87 percent) re- porting that the harassment had a negative effect on them. Both studies found that girls were more likely than boys to have experienced harassment.

gaystarAnd among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, the numbers are even higher—in a study of LGBT students in grades 6-12, 85 percent of respondents reported being verbally harassed and 40 percent reporting being physically harassed at school because of their sexual orientation. Close to two-thirds (64 percent) were verbally harassed because of their gender expression. Another study found that LGBT youth were twice as likely to have been verbally harassed at school as their non-LGBT peers.

For girls and young women who drop of school due to sexual- or gender-based harassment, the long-term economic impact can be devastating. Young women who don’t graduate from high school have higher rates of unemployment than men who drop out; those who do get jobs make significantly lower wages than male dropouts. Women lacking a high school degree are also more likely to have to rely on safety net programs than their male peers or men and women who have graduated from high school and college.

And although men at every level of education make more than women with similar educational backgrounds, the wage gap is particularly high among high school dropouts: the typical woman who starts but does not finish high school is paid only 71 percent of what her male counterpart is paid. Female dropouts are more likely to live in poverty than both men and women with higher educational attainment. And children raised in such situations may find it difficult to escape poverty themselves; studies have shown that being poor at birth is a strong predictor of future poverty status, and children in poverty have lower odds of experiencing upward mobility across generations. Thus, the economic impact of sex-based harassment on women and their families can be overwhelming.

Innumerable cases in the media illustrate the impact of sexual harassment/assault upon students. Although the most dramatic cases dominate reporting, the daily cases of sexual harassment, assault, retaliation, and the deplorable response of schools are largely unknown to the public. These cases compromise and destroy lives at an alarming rate.

The following selected media stories raise awareness, encourage victims to seek resources, report, take legal action, and encourage bystanders to join the movement for change.

The Epidemic of K-12 Sexual Harassment/Assault

Sexual violence isn’t just a college problem. It happens in K-12 schools, too. (Washington Post)

Dietrich: Idaho Teen, Community Grapple With Aftermath of Assault (Boise Weekly)

White classmate avoids jail in coat hanger assault of disabled black teen (Chicago Tribune)

Alleged assault at Barnstable school prompts legal threat (Cape Cod Times)

High Schools Are Failing Girls Who Report Sexual Assault (Huffington Post)

Cheerleader sues high school after they allegedly tried to cover up her sexual assault (Aol news)

Documents show Lansing Schools failed to comply with Title IX (WLNS.com, Lansing, MI)

Feds to investigate in wake of alleged rape at Pinnacle HS [Arizona] (12News, Phoenix)

Federal Campus Rape Investigations Near 200, And Finally Get More Funding (The Huffington Post)

Lawmakers Shift Campus Rape Conversation to High Schools (Women’s eNews)

National Women’s Law Center explains why we must deal with K-12 sexual assault now (The National Law Journal)

To Prevent Sexual Assault, Start Early” (New York Times)

124 Colleges, 40 School Districts Under Investigation For Handling Of Sexual Assault” (Huffington Post)

After Progress on College Rape, Why Ignore Sexual Violence in High School?” (The Guardian)

High Schools and Middle Schools Are Failing Victims of Sexual Assault” (US News)

Middle School assaults illustrate schools’ ignorance of Title IX (People)

Study: Sexual Harassment Frequent Among Middle School Students” (US News)

Study: Sexual Harassment In Middle And High Schools At Unprecedented Levels” (CBS News)

What Should High Schools Do? 44 Percent of Sexual Assaults Happen Before College” (Huffington Post)

Why Aren’t We Talking About Sexual Assault in High School?” (Elle)

Department Of Education Investigating K-12 School Districts For Mishandling Sexual Assault” (Huffington Post)

In Handling Rape, High Schools Are Worse Than Colleges” (Al-Jazeera)

By the Numbers: Sexual Violence in High School” (Al-Jazeera)

Exclusive: 23 School Districts Face Sexual Assault Investigations” (Al-Jazeera)

Bay Area Schools Ignoring Title IX?” (NBC)

Articles on high school sexual assault (Huffington Post)

Why I Say No More to Sexual Assault” Rep. Tom Reed recounts the impact of sexual assault upon his niece (video)

Study Has More Disturbing Findings About Campus Rape of Freshmen Women” (CNN)

Sexual victimization before college increases the likelihood of being raped in college (Christian Science Monitor)

A Father in Texas Takes On Sexual Assault in Sports” (NY Times)

Rape culture addressed head on in acclaimed journal produced by students of Palo Alto High School, investigated by the federal government for violating Title IX.

Palo Alto students rape report praised by the Ochberg Society for Trauma Journalism with links to articles and media reports (Ochberg)

Palo Alto Student Paper’s Stories on ‘Rape Culture’ Draw National Attention” (San Jose Mercury News)

Rutgers report: ‘Sexual violence’ starts before college” (NJ.com)

Plum sex abuse scandal mirrors national trend” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Recent Reports about Title IX in K-12

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Assaults by Privileged Athletes (in the band room, in/near schools)

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Student expelled after reporting rape by star athlete, lawsuit alleges (WXYZ.com)

School protected star quarterback who recorded autistic teen’s sex assault, lawsuit claims (MLive)

Michigan High School Protects Student Athlete at Expense of Alleged Sexual Assault Victim” (RH Reality Check)

Victim Exposes ‘Complete Failure’ of Forest Hills Schools to Train for Sex Assault Cases, Judge Says” (Michigan Live) 

High School Principal Ignores Sexually Assaulted Victims to Protect Basketball Player’s ‘Prospects at Being Recruited’

Kicked Out of High School for ‘Public Lewdness’ After Reporting Rape“ (NBC news)

Four Years Later, Alleged RapeVictim is Still Denied Her Police Report” (Al-Jazeera)

Football players arrested for rape in Murietta High School, CA (Huffington Post)

Two southern California high school football stars, both 17, charged in sexual assault case involving six underage girls” (NY Daily News)

Florida football players’ gang rape adjacent to school (Sun Sentinel)

Culver City High Football Players Raped Freshman on Campus, Distributed Video of Attack: Lawsuit” (KTLA News)

An Alleged Sexual Assault at a Georgia High School Rehashes the Lessons of Steubenville” (XX Factor)

Football Star Got Away with Sexually Assaulting Mentally Handicapped Girl, Mother Says” (AlterNet)

Two Steubenville Football Players Found Guilty of Raping Teenage Girl At Party” (The Guardian)

Steubenville, OH, high school rape case (Wikipedia)

High school football players rape middle school girls in CT (Connecticut Magazine)

Connecticut high school rape (NY Times)

Torrington. CT, high school rape case (Wikipedia)

Richmond gang rape (Wikipedia; OCR’s investigation)

Rape culture fostered Richmond gang rape (SF Gate)

Victim’s father reflects on Richmond gang rape (Huffington Post)

Louisville, KY, rape case (Wikipedia)

Daisy Coleman, Alleged Rape Victim, Attempts Suicide Again (Washington Post)

Daisy Coleman’s family speaks (ABC News)

Jada rape with her interview (CNN) 

Oral Rapes and Other Violent Assaults on School Property, School Buses

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Sexual Harassment, Assault, Humiliation, Cyberbullying Leading to Suicide and LGBTQ   Discrimination gaystar

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Numerous Sexual Assaults by Coaches on Students

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Numerous Reports of Male and Female Teacher Assaults on Students

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Destructive Everyday Sexual Harassment Pervasive in Schools Nationally

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Below are examples of daily sexual harassment/assault reported by students at Berkeley, CA, High School, now under investigation by OCR for violation of Title IX. More examples of pervasive harassment in OCR cases appear here.

Students formed Berkeley Stop Harassing to address sexual assault and pervasive sexual harassment. Video from award ceremony (YouTube)

Feds launch civil rights investigation into Berkeley School District’s response to sexual harassment claims (Berkeleyside)

Op-ed: Sexual Harassment at Berkeley High Must Stop” (Berkleyside)

Print accounts of daily sexual harassment and assault at Berkeley High School (BHS website)

Two-Thirds of Public Schools Reported Zero Incidents of Sexual Harassment in 2013–14 (AAUW)

Sexual Assault “Hazing”

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