A subject we must discuss with students
by Xinyi He and SSAIS
Many Asian students rarely talk about sex at home or in school. It’s not that students don’t want to talk about it, it’s that parents almost never talk about this taboo topic with their children. Many parents also approach sexual assault cases as the victim’s problem rather than the perpetrator’s responsibility. This is because most Asian countries continue to be influenced by Confucian and Taoist philosophies that emphasize procreation and sexuality in the context of the social order. Premarital sex is against traditional cultural norms. But as times are rapidly changing, more and more Asian parents are talking about sex, and even some Asian countries put sex education in their compulsory courses in primary and middle schools.
Students in K-12 schools need parents, family members, and adult friends to start the conversation about a very serious and widespread problem: sexual harassment and assault in K-12 schools. At least half of K-12 students will experience the negative impact of sexual harassment or assault either by peers or school staff, starting as early as kindergarten. But most students will never report it. Instead they suffer in silence, become depressed or anxious, fail to fully succeed in their studies, may drop out, and some will harm themselves. To start the conversation, adults must learn about the many types of sexual harassment and the warning signs when students have experienced it. You’ll find this information on the Stop Sexual Assault in Schools (SSAIS) webpage called Sexual Harassment Defined.
幼儿园到高中的学生需要父母、家庭成员和成年朋友尽早开始讨论一个非常严重和普遍的问题:学校的性骚扰和性侵犯。从幼儿园开始，至少有一半的学生会遭遇来自同龄人或学校工作人员的性骚扰或性侵犯，并对学生产生负面影响。但大多数学生永远不会和老师或者家长讲述自己的遭遇。相反，他们会默默忍受，从而变得沮丧或焦虑，无法专心在在学习上，最终可能会导致辍学，有些人甚至会伤害自己。为了和学生更好的讨论这个话题，家长们必须了解许多类型的性骚扰，以及学生经历过性骚扰后的警告信号。你可以在Stop Sexual Assault in Schools (SSAIS)名为“定义性骚扰”的网页上找到这些信息。
For example, sexual harassment can include disturbing remarks about not looking or acting like a stereotypical girl or boy. It can include sexual gestures, sounds, sexual jokes, unwanted sexual messages, pictures, or videos, insults and threats from a dating partner, a romantic relationship between a student and adult (even if the student wants it), unwanted touch, sexual groping, and rape. It happens to girls, boys, and gender non-conforming students (LGBTQ). It can happen in the classroom, online, on the playground, in the bathroom, in the locker room, on the school bus, at a teacher’s house, or on a date. Watch these parents talk about their students being sexually harassed.
Students in both public and private schools are sexually harassed and assaulted. Whether it happens at school or off school property, students need help with the trauma caused and the impact on their education. When sexual harassment or assault creates a hostile environment at school or online, the school must take effective steps to stop the harassment and protect the student. Beware! Schools will try to cover up the harassment to protect their reputation. Visit the SSAIS website to learn how to take action to protect students.
Talk with your student about the types of sexual harassment and how sexual harassment is prohibited at school or online just like it is in the workplace. Help your student recognize sexual exploitation, grooming, and abuse by teachers or school staff. Encourage students to stand up to harassment and discrimination, whether against themselves or others. Reach out to students who are uncomfortable talking with their families. Help them find support. Use the SSAIS fact sheet Know What to Do.
These aren’t just other families’ problems. The perpetrator of the sexual harassment or assault may be a student or school employee who has frequent contact with your student. Your student may have witnessed or heard about sexual harassment or assault and may feel uncomfortable or unsafe at school. If a school discounts or dismisses reports of sexual harassment or assault, your student may be discouraged from reporting, or may even be a victim of sexual harassment but not told anyone. Sexual harassment and assault are community problems that impact all students.
That’s why adults must take action. In addition to learning about this problem and talking with students, read your school’s anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. They must be available online or from your school’s office. They should define sexual harassment and explain what actions the school takes when it learns of sexual harassment or discrimination. Find out what the school is doing to prevent sexual harassment. All public schools and any private schools that receives even one dollar of federal money must follow a civil rights law called Title IX. Title IX guarantees students the right to an education free from sex discrimination and sexual harassment. Learn about students’ Title IX rights on the SSAIS website.
Make sure your school district has a trained Title IX coordinator. The Title IX coordinator’s contact information must be publicly available and easy to find. Learn more about the essential role of the Title IX Coordinator on the SSAIS Title IX Coordinator’s webpage. Learn how to investigate what a school does about sexual harassment and assault using this guide.
Bottom line, sexual harassment and assault are a reality in K-12 schools. We can’t ignore it any longer. Students’ lives can be devastated by the sexual harassment or assault and by the school’s inadequate response. It doesn’t have to be this way. If we all take action, we can protect our students and make our schools safe places to learn for everyone. We can prevent the far-reaching, long-lasting effects of sexual harassment and assault. Start the conversation, continue the conversation, and use the parent toolkit and resources on the SSAIS website to help students and parents better deal with sexual harassment and assault.
Listen to these parents, relatives, and neighbors describe the toll sexual harassment takes on the K-12 students in their lives. Hear their frustration with schools that discount, disbelieve, and ultimately fail these students, compromising their education and burdening families. They feel that schools aren’t doing enough to protect their loved ones and neighbors.
Do you know what to do if you are sexually harassed or assaulted? This fact sheet informs you about your rights under Title IX, how to protect your privacy, the school’s responsibilities, how to get emotional support, and more.