What is sexual harassment? Why do schools let it slide? Does school leadership care?
Sexual harassment is a sexual and inappropriate action toward another person that can be done through text or in person. The perpetrator doesn’t have the other person’s consent, which is why it’s considered sexual harassment. I am a middle schooler at MATCH Charter Public Middle School, and I am a victim of sexual harassment.
Before I get into the day I stood up for myself and finally took action, I want to rewind to the text messages and actions that led up to the incident. It all started when a new male friend got my Snapchat and sent me a direct message saying that I was cute. I didn’t think much of it, I just took it as a compliment. The more we started to message on Snapchat, the more I noticed that he was becoming a little “too friendly,” texting me things like “I want to have sexual intercourse with you,” “you’re thick,” and “I know where you live.” This made me feel uncomfortable, so I stopped texting him and distanced myself from the situation.
A couple of weeks later, my friends started telling me that he was always looking at my butt when I got up. It started to get annoying because I couldn’t even stand up to fix my pants without him looking. When we transitioned to other classes in the hallways he would touch me in inappropriate places and say “it was an accident.” I knew it wasn’t an accident, but I was too afraid to say something because if I did, people would say I was overreacting. But one day, I decided that I had enough.
Last spring, I finally filed my report with the school because I was just over being harassed and I could no longer be silent. On a Friday during school, I was hanging out with my friends when I noticed the boys whispering and telling this one particular kid over and over “just do it.” I didn't pay much attention to it. A couple of minutes later, the boy came up to me and asked for a hug and I said sure. He then wrapped his hands around my waist and grabbed my butt. I tried to push him away from me, but he was holding on tight. I finally gave him a good push and he got off. All his friends were laughing as if it was a joke. I felt violated because how are you supposed to be my friend, but use my body as a toy you can just play with?
The deans at MATCH notified both of our parents along with the school police. There were also other consequences I didn’t know about, but they never told me how they addressed the situation. It felt like they didn’t do anything and just wanted to let it slide like it was a small situation because they didn’t communicate with me.
This whole incident really messed up my mindset because it felt like I couldn't be friends with a male without them thinking about doing something sexual with me. It made me lose trust in people. How could you take advantage of me and treat me like that? This moment changed my whole perspective on life and the world because I know that I am not the only student who has experienced something like this, and it can really be traumatizing to people.
Schools need to be more aware of sexual harassment among students and address the situation because it can affect a students' education. It can make them not want to come to school because they feel very uncomfortable. They can also be scared to be left alone with a boy in a classroom. Sexual harassment in schools needs to come to end because nobody should be scared to show up to school, they should be able to come to school and get their education. Take action and don’t stay silent!