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Sexual assault is commonly overlooked in high school

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Sexual assault is commonly overlooked in high school


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Sexual assault and harassment have occurred in the United States since the formation of the country, but it has long been generally overlooked. The campaign for ending sexual assault and harassment once and for all has expanded tremendously with the emergence of the #MeToo movement on Twitter, ignited by multiple allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein. However, this crusade has not only been occurring in Hollywood with the recent termination of Today show co-anchor Matt Lauer after allegations of sexual misconduct arose, shocking the 4 million viewers that tune in to the morning program. This movement has elicited many valiant women and men from all backgrounds to come forward about their own experiences with sexual assault and harassment.

Regardless of the fact that this issue is being highlighted extensively in the media, on a large scale in many high schools across the country, sexual assault continues without consequence. America’s education system is state run, making it more difficult to implement policies regarding sexual abuse, meaning whoever is responsible for reporting abuse varies state to state, adding great difficulty to the process. This not only confuses the students seeking to report assault, but can lead to many adults being unprepared for situations regarding sexual abuse. Research shows that 80 percent of high school counselors feel unqualified to deal with such incidents. (Break the Cycle and Community Common).

When situations concerning sexual assault or harassment occur, especially in high school, many people have contrasting reactions. Often times, unfortunately, many push the blame on the victim instead of the perpetrator, which is a clear reason why many cases go unreported. In a study done in Louisiana, 20 percent of students said they have been forced into sexual actions, and only half of them had told anyone about it; an even smaller percent had gone to authorities (Jah Online). This pattern of the assaulter getting away with the crime is an everyday phenomenon that has existed for decades.

Sexual abuse has become too common in high school for both girls and boys. In a survey conducted by the Center of Disease Control (CDC), 42.2 percent of female rape victims were raped before they had turned 18. In the same survey, 27.8 percent of male rape occurred when they were 10 years old or younger (Aljazeera America). Schools need to set policies that not only protect the victim, but other students as well. Whether this can be done by expelling the assaulter or removing them from classes shared with the victim, schools need to take action in creating a safe environment not only for the victim, but for any other student who feels unsafe. All reports or leads should be taken seriously.

Sexual harassment, rape and assault can happen anywhere and to anyone, from a complete stranger to someone familiar, but that does not excuse their actions. High schools teach students about their rights, but do they teach what to do when situations like these occur? That is what needs to be brought forth into the spotlight in order to create a community free of harassers, rapists and aggressors.
Movements such as the #MeToo campaign have to continue to expand and gain popularity, and women and men across the world have to come forward about their experiences with sexual assault, harassment, abuse and violence. The situation in Hollywood needs to be discussed everywhere, including high schools, and the only way to the do that is to come forward and talk about these issues.

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Sexual assault is commonly overlooked in high school