Ignorance isn’t bliss

There should be more emphasis on students feeling safe at school


It’s been over 10 years since it started. It’s been over eight years since I first told someone. It’s been over seven years since the court decided that a couple years of house arrest and a no-contact order was justice. There have been zero days since that I haven’t thought about it. 

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about my sexual assault since it happened. I remember all the events, all the questions I was asked from the lawyers and all the times that someone I loved, family even, didn’t believe me. It has affected me in more ways than I could tell you, which is why hearing similar stories from my peers makes me not only sad, but angry. 

Over the past month I have heard of countless cases of students in our school who have experienced some kind of sexual harassment. Hearing these stories and hearing what the school is doing about it, or, rather, not doing about it, has left me speechless and heartbroken. 

When complaints are filed or situations are brought up, administration tells us that they are doing everything they can to fix the problem. But the simple fact is that Perry Township has never worked as hard as they should to fix the sexual harassment problems that it has in most of its schools. 

While at SMS, I was in classes with teachers and students both who have been accused of some kind of sexual harassment. I was aware the entire time that the school had done close to nothing, if not nothing, to investigate these students and teachers. 

I have heard stories recently of students who have been caught harassing people at SMS, but no one is reporting it because they know that nothing will be done anyway. So what’s the point? 

While I feel that SHS is not as bad for me as SMS was, I have still heard many stories from students who have been groped and kissed without consent, students who have been harassed and even raped in and out of school. 

I didn’t realize quite how bad it was here until the past few weeks. I don’t think many people did. The main factor in that was the Instagram page @_awarenessforall that has gotten very popular in our school. I spent so much time scrolling through that page and reading other people’s stories when I first found it. 

Some people think that that page is causing trouble and that they are likely to get shut down. I however, think that this page is doing so much good. It has brought awareness to a problem that a lot of people didn’t think was as big of an issue as it is. It has encouraged people to stand up for others and to take action. And it’s a way for people to share their stories and be heard without the fear of judgement or criticism. I think that is so important. 

School should be a place where I feel comfortable to learn, to better myself for my future and to see my friends. School should be a place where students feel safe and protected.

I consider myself lucky to not have to face my abuser daily. Even without the constant reminders, I still think about it every day. I can’t imagine coming to school and being forced to face that. I can’t imagine sitting in class trying to learn knowing that a school you should feel safe in did nothing to protect you. And I can’t understand why so many of these students and teachers get away with what they’ve done.

I believe that SHS needs to make more of an effort to fix this problem. They should have harsher punishments for students who are caught and they should spend more time investigating when students have a concern.

These students deserve protection, and do not deserve to have a school system that they are forced to stay in that’s not working towards keeping them safe.