Pro­tect­ing chil­dren from sex­ual abuse in schools

Chicago Tribune - - BUSINESS - — Ar­shele Stevens, CEO Girls Inc. of Chicago

The shock­ing num­ber of sex­ual vi­o­lence cases fielded by Chicago Pub­lic Schools’ new Ti­tle IX of­fice should serve as a wake-up call to ev­ery­one that not only is sex­ual vi­o­lence hap­pen­ing in K-12 schools, it is hor­rif­i­cally com­mon.

Statis­tics back this up: One in four girls na­tion­wide will ex­pe­ri­ence sex­ual as­sault or abuse be­fore she turns 18 and nearly 70 per­cent of them ex­pe­ri­ence sex­ual ha­rass­ment in high school.

Over 600 brave Chicago stu­dents have al­ready sum­moned the courage to re­port what hap­pened to them. But dis­con­cert­ingly, if pro­posed new Ti­tle IX reg­u­la­tions from Betsy DeVos’ Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion are fi­nal­ized, schools would not have to in­ves­ti­gate sex­ual ha­rass­ment, even if it is re­ported to an em­ployee, un­less that em­ployee is the K-12 Ti­tle IX co­or­di­na­tor or a teacher.

This is prob­lem­atic be­cause chil­dren are far more likely to re­port sex­ual ha­rass­ment to an adult they trust, but most of these adults — e.g., play­ground su­per­vi­sors, guid­ance coun­selors, ath­let­ics coaches — would not be re­quired to help them at all. What’s worse, schools would also be re­quired to pre­sume the sur­vivor may be ly­ing and use a stan­dard of ev­i­dence that tilts in­ves­ti­ga­tions in fa­vor of named ha­rassers and rapists and against sur­vivors. This would make school pro­ceed­ings more like crim­i­nal courts and would not treat both par­ties equally — a vi­o­la­tion of Ti­tle IX it­self.

As the CEO of Girls Inc. of Chicago, I work with girls and young women for whom these sex­ual vi­o­lence episodes are a daily re­al­ity. We must speak out on their be­half and tell the U.S. Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion to re­con­sider these pro­posed changes.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.