Sexual Harassment Can Happen Anywhere

The Website S.A.S.H.H. has many helpful resources about sexual harassment and sexual assault.


The Website S.A.S.H.H. has many helpful resources about sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Bailey Briggs, Editor

Sexual harassment is a widespread problem throughout the world, but many don’t know what it is and what they can do about it. It impacts everyone, including teachers and students of all genders, and it can be damaging to self esteem and mental health.

In the Jefferson County Public Schools Student Handbook,“Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment may include a range of subtle and not-so-subtle behaviors and may involve individuals of the same or different gender.”

According to Equal Rights Advocates, sexual harassment can include anything from unwanted touching and inappropriate jokes, to someone offering a good grade or promotion in exchange for sexual favors. That being said, sexual harassment applies to anything that makes you and your body feel violated and unsafe. 

Even Dakota Ridge High School experiences sexual harassment. 

“You just got to look at it in the hallway, you see it everywhere. Students face it every day, teachers face it every day. It is just such a normalized problem,” an anonymous DRHS student said. 

Teachers have also identified it as a problem and experienced it themselves. 

“I don’t know how many teachers here have been harassed sexually, but I do know that there have been teachers who have had really uncomfortable encounters with male students. I think that our young men think that it’s okay,” Michelle Buchanan-Lind, DRHS English teacher, said.

As for why this seems to be such an apparent problem in the school, there are many different directions to look in, one of the main ones being that sexual harassment is accepted within the media. Celebrities and political figures such as Donald Trump and Britany Spears, have been accused of sexual harassment, yet people still support them. Additionally, with the rise of influencers such as Andrew Tate, predatory behavior has become mainstream and normalized.

“I think when young men feel powerless… that’s their way of dealing with it rather than learning to communicate effectively. Our young men believe it is okay…because of their belief in women’s inferiority,” Buchanan-Lind said. 

The consequences of these behaviors are not often as severe as they could be. While sexual harassment is not supposed to be tolerated in schools or in the workplace, it is often hard to prove, and a problem present in mainstream culture. However, there are systems in place to combat sexual harassment. Under Title IX, which is a law prohibiting sex discrimination in federally funded academic institutions, Jefferson County Public Schools is required to take action against sex discrimination, including sexual harassment.

At Dakota Ridge the course of action around sexual harassment depends on the situation and the evidence available to prove that it took place. 

“Sexual harassment, quite honestly, is really hard to prove…We want to believe the victim, but without proof there is no legal action we can take,” Rachel Parker, DRHS assistant principal, said. 

Once sexual harassment is reported, there can sometimes be consequences for the perpetrator. 

“Harassment in general, it would depend on how it was, if it’s over a text message or face-to-face…there would definitely be some consequences, like out of school suspension in those situations,” Jeff Legault, DRHS dean of students, said. 

However, it can be difficult to report sexual harassment at all, as it can have serious impacts on mental health, and there is uncertainty regarding what can be done about it. According to school administrators, sexual harassment is rarely reported, and when it is, not much can be done about the report.  

“From my own experience, when I tried to report things within the school, it didn’t go well,” an anonymous DRHS student said. 

Despite the difficulties of reporting sexual harassment, there are ways to do so effectively, and there are resources to help with the nerve-wracking process. 

“Report it to an adult you feel comfortable with. The big thing is report it to your trusted adult first because that is where you are going to feel most comfortable talking about it. For some students that’s their counselor, for some students that’s Deputy Dave, and for some it is coming straight to their admin or Mr. Legault. We all work very collaboratively to work with students,” Parker said. 

There are online resources to help through the process of reporting and dealing with the aftermath of sexual harassment, including the website S.A.S.H.H., created by a DRHS student. 

“The information on my website explains what sexual harassment is…it explains the different trigger responses. It goes into how to report (sexual harassment) inside the school and outside of the school…There is free to low cost therapy on there,” S.A.S.H.H. creator said.  

Overall, it is difficult to make any large scale changes regarding sexual harassment within our school because it is a problem deeply rooted in our society. However, there is hope for improving the issue through education and resources that people need to speak out against sexual harassment. 

“Tell them about it. That’s step number one,” an anonymous DRHS student said. “We have to start out really slow, like having optional meetings about it… A lot of kids don’t realize that sexual harassment or sexual assault is what it is…If we just made them aware, a lot more people would realize the problem.”