During Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, Christine Blasey Ford testified that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party in the 1980s, while they were both in high school near Washington D.C.
The investigation into sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh has sparked #WhyIdidntreport confessions about people’s own experiences with sexual misconduct. #WhyIdidntreport became a trending topic on Twitter during Kavanaugh’s hearings.
Allegations from the general public have ranged in severity, encompassing both sexual harassment and sexual assault.
According to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment is “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.”
Sexual assault is defined slightly differently. According to the U.S. Office on Women’s Health, sexual assault is “any type of sexual activity or contact that you do not consent to.”
These distinctions are important to note as individuals come forward with their stories. This even includes students at WHHS who are sharing their own experiences.
One such person that has been motivated to take action on this topic is Seth Ross, ’20. Ross authored a survey about sexual misconduct and shared it among his friends. He received over 70 responses, and the stories that they share are wide-ranging.
“I just sent it out to my friends who might be interested and a lot of friends who are passionate about the subject too,” Ross said.
Ross has been a strong advocate for those who have been sexually harassed and assaulted, including students at WHHS.
SENIOR Mueni Nzioki said, “I’ve seen boys smack girls butts, grope their breasts, all that.” When asked how the girls respond to these sexual advancements, she said, “I think the girls are more confused about what do. Obviously they don’t want that to happen to them, because it’s unwarranted.”
“A lot of guys don’t realize that girls interpret certain actions differently, and that’s where the big problem lies.””
— SENIOR Antwane Pope
In the Dec. 11, 2017 issue of The Chatterbox, there was a survey conducted of students at WHHS about harassment. It showed that while 82.7 percent of students have seen some sort of physical, verbal or sexual harassment at school, only 10.6 percent of students have reported that harassment to an adult.
“I haven’t been sexually harassed, but I know it’s a big problem. I think it comes down to a difference in how men and women think and play…a lot of guys don’t realize that girls interpret certain actions differently, and that’s where the big problem lies,” SENIOR Antwane Pope said.
According to the student handbook, the first offense of any type of harassment, sexual or otherwise, results in “Parent Notification/Removal & SRO Notified.” A second offense will lead to a “Court Referral/ISS/A2S & SRO Notified.” Since student discipline records are protected under FERPA, it is difficult to verify just how many cases of sexual harassment and assault get reported to the school each year.
Regarding how WHHS students should spread awareness about sexual misconduct, Yocheved Ocho, ’20, said, “We should have an assembly to spread awareness on the fact that sexual assault does happen.”
If you have been a victim of sexual assault, reach out to the National Sexual Assault Hotline. At 800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org. The hotline has served over 2 million people affected by sexual violence since 1994.