The Truth About Sexual Harassment Protests at Wakefield High School
What would you do if you stumbled upon hundreds of provocative images of yourself that were taken without your knowledge?
This is a nightmare that thirteen girls from Wakefield High School are facing.
A male classmate took and shared many inappropriate pictures of girls without their knowledge. Many of the students at Wakefield, including the victims, now feel violated and unsafe.
But after a two-week suspension, the student who posted these pictures is still allowed to return to school.
Students and their parents have protested outside of the school for a few days. They feel that the school isn't taking this sexual harassment case seriously.
Keep reading our page to learn about the details of the sexual harassment case at Wakefield Memorial High School. We'll also talk about why sexual harassment prevention and training are important in schools.
Wakefield Memorial High School
Over the span of a year and a half, a male student at Wakefield High School took hundreds of inappropriate pictures of thirteen different girls without their consent or knowledge. Many of the pictures taken were of the girls' backsides, between their legs, and even some that went up their skirts.
The student then proceeded to post and share these images on a social media platform called Discord where anyone could see them. He included the victims' names and made sexually explicit comments about them in the captions.
For some of these images, he encouraged viewers to rate the girls and even included price tags for viewers to send money to his private Cash App.
The school was notified of this incident on October 11th, shortly after the pictures were discovered. The administration only suspended the male student for two weeks. They're now working with the Wakefield Police Department for further investigation.
Sexual Harassment, or Social Media Misuse?
The superintendent reached out to the parents to notify them of the disciplinary actions they're taking. They referred to the incident as a "serious misuse of social media", and believe that their punishment follows their school policy.
The school has also focused on going over the dangers of social media. But, students and parents don't believe that social media is the problem, sexual harassment is.
Since November 18th, students and their parents have been lining up outside of the school with signs. They're protesting the school's tolerance in allowing the male perpetrator to return.
While the student's suspension has ended, he hasn6't returned to the school yet. It's unknown whether he will return to Wakefield High School, but the protesting students and parents don't think the boy should be able to return.
This incident has caused a lot of mental turmoil for the victims. Many students have expressed that they don't feel safe knowing that the boy could return any day. These students deserve to be safe at school.
Despite the protesting, the administration has stood by its decision. Instead of addressing the main issue, they've offered counseling to the victims.
Since the administration believes that their discipline measures are appropriate with their policy and guidelines, protestors are calling for a change in policy. If the school's policy doesn't address sexual harassment, what's stopping it from happening again?
Wakefield High School has declined to say anything more on this matter. The Wakefield Police Department is still working on their investigation, but can't release any information since this case involves minors.
Sexual Harassment Prevention in Schools
While cases this extreme aren't as common, sexual harassment is still a serious problem in many schools.
While school staff should be able to handle sexual harassment situations when they arise, there are preventative measures that schools can take to stop some of the conflicts before they happen.
We've made a list of some of the best measures schools can take to stop sexual harassment before it happens.
Mandate Sex Education
Sex education is so important for children and teenagers, but it's only mandated in 24 states. But why? Unfortunately, many parents don't understand the curriculum and assume sex education is bad.
For younger grades, sexual education is about understanding consent and respecting others' bodies. If students learn that "no means no!" from a young age, they're more likely to respect their peers as they get older.
Children who understand that their bodies are their own may also understand that it's okay to say no and talk to an adult if someone is harassing them. These are important things to teach young children so they can stay safe.
As students get older, sexual education should teach them about safe sex and healthy relationships.
By understanding what is and isn't respectful, teenagers can learn how to create boundaries and identify red flags in relationships. This helps students stand up for themselves against sexual harassment and abuse.
Avoid Gender Stereotypes
Gender stereotypes are harmful to everyone, and can easily influence children's minds. There are so many common stereotypes, you may not even notice when you use them.
Phrases like "Boys will be boys," or "You hit like a girl," can cause a lot of damage. The first phrase teaches boys that they don't need to take responsibility for their actions. The second phrase implies that girls aren't as strong as boys, and is shameful.
Some forms of gender stereotyping also shame kids for liking different things. For example, boys who like makeup or girls who like wrestling are shamed. The school should offer equal opportunities for all genders and encourage students to take part in their interests.
Many children learn and repeat the things they hear at home. While we can't change how kids are raised at home, we can influence them. By discouraging stereotypes, we can make a change.
Sexual Harassment Training
Even with preventative measures in place, some sexual harassment still may occur. That's why it's essential for staff members to know how to handle harassment cases the right way.
Teachers and school staff members should be able to identify signs of sexual harassment in school and address them with students. Staff should know how to avoid victim-blaming and follow through on disciplinary actions. It's important that teachers communicate these problems to parents as well.
As with any workplace, school staff members should also have their own set of guidelines that prohibit sexual harassment. Unfortunately, sexual harassment is just as prevalent for adults in the workplace too.
Types of Sexual Harassment
When you read the Wakefield High School story, you can identify the sexual harassment pretty easily. Yet, not all sexual harassment is clear. To prevent and handle sexual harassment cases, it's important to understand the different types of it.
Visual forms of sexual harassment can be in person, or even over the phone or internet. Some examples in person include staring, leering, and making sexual gestures. If someone asks another person to stop watching them but they continue, it's disrespectful and considered harassment.
Sending unwanted explicit messages or images via text or over the internet is another form of visual harassment. With social media apps that can erase our messages, such as Snapchat, this is a common form of harassment.
Verbal forms of sexual harassment can be sexual conversations, foul language, disrespectful comments, and remarks about physical traits. In some cases, it can be difficult to tell if a comment or conversation is crossing a line, and that's why sexual harassment training is so important.
Many people think that it's acceptable to comment on someone else's body if it's a compliment, but it can still be a form of harassment. If someone ever expresses that they're uncomfortable with any type of discussion, you should respect their wishes and stop.
Sexual harassment can also become physical, and in some cases, it can be considered sexual assault. Physical sexual harassment can be any type of unwanted touching, groping, hugging, or kissing.
So when does physical harassment become assault? If you use force or violence against someone else's wishes to touch them in any way, it's assault.
Physical sexual harassment is the easiest to identify, and should definitely be reported as soon as possible. Many perpetrators of physical sexual harassment will continue and may even become violent.
Providing a Safe Environment
Sexual harassment is a problem everywhere, for some reason many schools and businesses choose to ignore it. Whether you're a small business owner or the superintendent of a school, it's important for you to provide a safe environment for your employees or students.