During our See It, Say It series, we have tackled mass shootings, mental illness, gun control, bullying and more. This all led me to the topic of sexual assaults on school campuses. While this may not be in the realm of mass shootings, it is definitely a See It, Say It issue.
When we think of sexual assault, we tend to think it only happens to girls; however, boys are victims of sexual assault as well. We also think it is middle school, high school and college students, but some victims are as young as kindergarten.
After researching this subject, according to the Associated Press, there were roughly 17,000 official reports of sexual assaults by students over a four-year period, from fall 2011 to spring 2015 across the United States. Although this figure represents the most complete tally of sexual assaults among the nation’s 50 million K-12 students, it does not fully capture the problem because many of these assaults are not reported and some states don’t even track them.
In an Ohio high school last year, four boys forced a 14-year-old girl into a storage closet and sexually assaulted her. In an Indiana middle school, six girls charged one of their classmates, groping her breasts and buttocks – choking, smacking and slapping the victim.
In a California elementary school, boys created a tradition of slapping and grabbing their female classmates’ buttocks.
I know we think, “We live in a small, rural community, – this only happens in the big cities.” Perhaps the first thing to address is for all of us to pull our head out of the sand. Crime has no address; it can happen anywhere at any time.
Is sexual assault in the school systems a hidden secret? According to the Clery Act – The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, schools must disclose campus crime statistics and security information on federally funded college campuses. However, high schools are not required to do the same.
There are the mandatory reporting laws in place for public schools that require teachers and administrator to report sexual assault allegations told by a student to the police. Sadly, there is a large percentage of victims who don’t report the incident, leaving them in the same classroom or social settings with their perpetrator.
Is sexual assault on school campuses an epidemic?
What can we do?
We can talk about it.
Knowledge is power and if you See It Say It.