Speak Out and Stand Together

#METOO: The cascade of claims alleging sexual misconduct has overwhelmed the media and emboldened people to stand in solidarity against the assailants.

By Sara Kuchimpos & Stefanie Tyo
January 8, 2018

The nation is boiling over.

Reports and rumors are flooding in, wave upon wave of women and men call for justice—the right to feel safe in their workplace and be free of sexual harassment.

Accusations of sexual harassment have flooded the media, which has reported scandal after scandal in politics, Hollywood and the media itself.

Notable Hollywood stars and government officials including U.S. Senator Al Franken, film producer Harvey Weinstein and President Donald Trump have been accused of sexual harassment by women who seem to finally have had enough.

Women and men who have experienced sexual harassment are stepping forward and sharing horrific stories of their firsthand encounters as victims of the crime. Victims and the majority of media are demanding that the assailants be held accountable for their actions.

Although scenarios and culprits differ, the motives and consequences are ultimately identical: Individuals using their power and authority to take advantage of those they believe are physically and emotionally weaker than them.

Obvious as it is, a reiteration of the definition crime is needed to further understand into these accusations. Sexual harassment is the making of unwanted sexual advances and/or obscene remarks in a workplace or other professional or social situations.

Although this epidemic has made headlines in media, it is necessary the public grasps that harassment extends beyond Hollywood studios and the halls of Congress. The major stories are only a microcosm that is prevalent in most of society, affecting regular people.

As school students, some of our own friends and perhaps even ourselves encounter such acts in our daily lives. In fact, some female students at Van Nuys High School report that they frequently experience sexual harassment on campus.

“Walking outside once school has ended is very unnerving, I’ll be cat-called—sometimes there are whistles, sexual comments, pickup lines…” said Katherine Henriquez.

“It’s honestly so deprecating; it makes you feel like an object, and a part of you almost wants to accept it.”

Some schools have tackled the problem head-on, holding yearly sexual harassment assemblies as a way to prevent incidents and to protect victims through education.

Despite their intention, these assemblies serve as the sole buffers to the LAUSD District policy against Sexual Harassment.

The policy states that once an act of harassment has been reported to or witnessed by a school official they are required to intervene when it is “safe to do so”.

Once the harassment has been made clear to the school they are required to take immediate action to investigate and determine what occurred.

In such situation, school personnel are then required to ensure the harassment stops, eliminate the hostile environment if one was created, and prevent the conduct from occurring again.

But, specifically, what is Van Nuys doing to implement this policy?

“Students are counseled, we often have a council group to deal with communication issues, students who are the perpetrators of harassment are put on contract and behavioral watch so that the harassment ends,” said Ms. Fanny Arana.

“The victims are also given opportunity for counseling as well as a school restorative justice circle and put on a safety plan so that they know who to go to on campus if the harassment continues.”

Staff officials, however, have a limited view into the window of student experiences, so it is not only their job to assist victims through the process of reporting harassment but also encouraging victims to come forward by becoming approachable.

“I’m glad our school has proper codes of conduct for situations like this, but the victim has to come forward first, which sadly doesn’t always occur,” said Adrianna Zambre.

“We should have seminars or meetings to tell victims of harassment how to report the misconduct and why it’s important that they do, they need to see and understand that what they experienced/are experiencing isn’t okay.”

According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), forty-eight percent of middle school and high school students report experiencing some form of sexual harassment by their peers. It ranges from unwanted sexual jokes to being coerced to perform a sexual act.

“The public often downplays harassment and assault and puts forth the idea that these kind of things rarely happen to anybody, but whether it’s catcalling to an assault, far more than most people realize, to way more people that we often think it might affect,” said Madeline Miller.

In terms of district policy, the scope of Title IX states that no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

The clause was then broadened by a SC decision in 1972 to account for protection against sexual harassment on an individual student-to-student basis.

If unwanted sexual advances occur on a school’s premises in violation of Title IX, the law holds that faculty members must respond immediately and effectively. Schools are deemed responsible for investigating any complaint and adjusting their policies to ensure it doesn’t occur again.

Although sexual harassment is often perceived as a zero-sum game with no effective resolution, there are still many measures to alleviate its foothold on society.

Social media is playing a bigger role than ever in spreading awareness about sexual harassment through prevention sites and support groups.

The hashtag #MeToo gives voice to the stories of millions of victims, allowing them to speak out and receive emotional support. It also helps to destigmatize people speaking out about their experiences of abuse.

“When you stand up against actions like that, it shows solidarity with victims and is a step towards justice which is far better than nothing,” said Miller.

Although the fight for justice of victims and the advocation of environments free from sexual harassment continues, there is no doubt that through this crisis society can better itself and create a safer future of men and women.

Sara is currently a features writer for the Mirror. She joined Journalism her senior year of high school.

She is an animal lover and has been vegetarian for nearly two years. She enjoys swimming, listening to music, and spending time with her friends. Sara plans on pursuing a career in Environmental Science and law. Sara immerses herself into extracurriculars that showcase her passion for social justice, like Junior Statesmen of America.

Stefanie Tyo is a Junior and the Chief Copy Editor of the Journalism Staff. She has been in journalism for three consecutive years starting her freshman year.

Outside of Journalism Stefanie plays club soccer and volunteers at Tarzana Hospital . Besides writing feature stories for The Mirror publication she also enjoys writing poetry and other forms of creative writing. She plans on majoring in Journalism in college and hopes on becoming a Medical Journalist.

Follow Us!


Leave a Comment
Donate to The Mirror
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Van Nuys Senior High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Donate to The Mirror
Our Goal

Comments (0)

Comments are encouraged and appreciated. All comments are moderated. Please limit all comments to the topic of the post. Observe proper online behavior rules: No name-calling, profanity or personal attacks. ALL inappropriate content will be immediately removed.
All The Mirror Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search