sexual harassment by student

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by newteach@40, May 21, 2008.

  1. newteach@40

    newteach@40 Rookie

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    May 21, 2008

    This sounds crazy, but THREE times in the past 2 weeks I have had to write up middle school students for sexual harassment. I truly am not mean to these students! The first time the student simply thought it would be funny to make some lewd comments (I work in a non-traditional setting, mixed ages, 6-12). I had a discussion about sexual harassment with them and why it was wrong. The second time I was talking/reprimanding a student(inappropriate drawing) in the hall so as not to draw attention to him. I was positive and encouraging and told him that we only wanted him to succeed and do well. When we returned to the classroom, he discovered his "art work" had been thrown away by the other teacher. He became angry and called me the worst name you could call a woman. Today, the student (different one) made a derogatory comment about Jewish people and I told him I do not tolerate offensive or disrespectful comments in my room. He did not think I should be telling him what to do and called me a dirty f***'in c**t. Again with that name!!!! He flipped off the other teacher and called the principal a name. The first two were suspended; this last one I don't know about yet.
    I truly do not know what to do. The second time I called my union rep and told her that I was going to the police to discuss filing some kind of complaint. I was furious! I have not heard from her since. The students are minors and nothing can be done as far as the police were concerned. I should not have to work under these conditions in such a hostile environment. I am afraid that if I try to take any other action, I will never get a "real" teaching job (I am a TA currently). I think I should just not say anything and finish out the year. I know this whole thing is so wrong; these kids are too young for type of behavior....should be too young. :(
     
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  3. Canadian Gal

    Canadian Gal Habitué

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    May 21, 2008

    This is like, the story of my life. Except that I don't get called names. I was very young (21) when I interned. Over the course of my internship I was:

    1) Asked out on dates
    2) Invited to parties (which wasn't so much of a stretch since I did party with some of the older siblings of kids I taught)
    3) Innappropriately touched in the hallways (turns out it was a guy who is now one of my best friends, but I didn't know that at the time)

    Since then, as a young 20-something teacher I have had to deal with:

    1) Being asked for a lap dance
    2) Invited to parties
    3) Hugged without any kind of invitation
    4) Had students accuse each other of "checking" me out - loudly and often
    5) Asked for hugs
    6) Had students try and get me to bend over, so others could look at my butt (both male and female students seem to find this game hilarious)
    7) Been asked on dates
    8) Brushed up against a student in the hallway (crowded) and then had him loudly proclaim I had grabbed his butt
    9) Been inappropriately touched in a team huddle when I was coach

    Out of all of this only ONE suspension. For asking me for a lap dance. I've reported EVERY incident. I've finally just given up. Maybe I should call Extreme Makeover and ask them to make me look old and frumpy...
     
  4. newteach@40

    newteach@40 Rookie

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    May 21, 2008

    The thing is, my students are already being punished, that's why they're with me. It is a suspension program. Generally, if you get in trouble with me or the other teacher, it's a big deal. We should not, nobody should, be expected to work in this kind of environment. Even worse, we should not have to feel that there will be consequences for standing up for ourselves.
     
  5. smarkham01

    smarkham01 Companion

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    May 21, 2008

    But, old and frumpy is super sexy!
     
  6. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    May 21, 2008

    No where did the OP say she was old and frumpy so this is making the assumption that she is. And not very nice.
     
  7. smarkham01

    smarkham01 Companion

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    May 21, 2008

    If you'd read first, jump later, you'd know that I've made no assumption and haven't made a single assumption.
     
  8. Canadian Gal

    Canadian Gal Habitué

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    May 21, 2008

    Kids get a "talking" too when I complain loudly enough. Many of my students (Grades 7-12) are old enough to be charged, however I hesitate. The student who accused me of grabbing him (this actually happened TODAY) is out on parole, and going to school is a condition of his parole. He's in Grade 12 on alternate programming (Special Ed) and the school wants him to graduate so he's not their problem next year. Which means his accusations against me take a backseat.

    I called my union and was told to press charges, but I see the school's point. I also don't teach him, and I'd hate to inflict him on any other teacher next year.

    I've learned to grin and bear it, however, I agree. Schools (particularily alternative schools and middle and high schools) need to have written sexual harassment policies. If only to protect teachers - not to mention other students.
     
  9. Canadian Gal

    Canadian Gal Habitué

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    May 21, 2008

    Haha. Unfortuantely for me, so is 5'3", 115lbs and blonde. It doesn't help that I'm the wrestling coach either....
     
  10. kilgore_trout

    kilgore_trout Rookie

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    May 21, 2008

    Uf! What a list! I've had the names (when I was an aide in middle school), but nothing more than some mildly inappropriate innuendo in high school.

    Next year's my first year as a teacher of record, and I feel forewarned.

    I'm devoid of advice, however. The students you describe sound exactly like my middle schoolers. Nearly ALL of them! The thing about them being so young, I wonder, is what are they seeing modelled as appropriate behavior? And when have they been called out on it during their lives? It's maddening trying to tell a seventh grader who sits in his apartment playing GTA all day while his parents work their hineys off that he can't act that way. Like talking to an angry, hormonal wall.
     
  11. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    May 21, 2008

    I read it, then I went back and made sure that the OP didn't come out and say that she was old or frumpy. So, I can only take your comment in the same context as the original poster.
     
  12. Canadian Gal

    Canadian Gal Habitué

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    May 21, 2008

    Smalltowngal - the comment was CLEARLY directed at my comment about Extreme Makeover.
     
  13. smarkham01

    smarkham01 Companion

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    May 21, 2008

    Unfortunately, I'm the male counterpart of frumpy, oh yeah I'm old, too:).

    I've talked to at least a half dozen middle school boys in the past month about sexual harassment. I don't think anything stuck for more than a period or two. I do like your idea about having specific SH prohibitions written into District policies; better yet, have it added to each states Education laws. Without something very specific I don't see any real protection for women in the classroom.


     
  14. Canadian Gal

    Canadian Gal Habitué

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    May 21, 2008

    Smarkham01 - Its not just women - we have a male teacher who is a couple of years younger then I am (though, and here I'll be vain, not nearly as attractive) and he gets the same type of behaviour from the girls.

    In fact, I could add to the list the fact that the kids keep trying to hook the two of us up.

    Policies NEED to be in place, and its something I've pushed for at the school level. However, on a staff where we have 3 teachers in their 20s, 1 in his early 30s and the rest are 38+ its difficult to get anyone to move on it.
     
  15. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Yes, and I didn't mean to ignore it, I just didn't see that part of it. I apologize.
     
  16. Canadian Gal

    Canadian Gal Habitué

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    No big deal! I was just standing up for someone who I thought was trying for a little humour in this serious thread. :cool:
     
  17. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    May 21, 2008

    About seven years ago. I was the building sub in a middle school. One of the 7th grade boys grabbed my butt. He was suspended for 3 days.
     
  18. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Okay, smarkham, I'm not sure what happened to my apology from earlier, but I do apology for jumping on you. I missed that in Candian Gal's post. I'm just a bit sensitive from other posts of recent.
     
  19. kamteach5

    kamteach5 Rookie

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    May 22, 2008

    Sorry old and frumpy won't work. I am 55 although I actually look pretty good. Last year a young man whose mother works at our school chased me around the room asking me daily to marry him. At one point he had all the boys hold up signs that said "say yes". I did everything I could to discourage his behavior but everyone (including his parents, principle, other staff, etc) was highly amused. I have one boy this year who has had made more than suggestive passes, so old and frumpy or young and sexy junior high boys are just goofy. I try to keep my sense of humor and gently remind the young gentlemen about appropriate behavior.
     
  20. Budaka

    Budaka Cohort

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    May 22, 2008

    I find my current batch of middle schools to be not as innocent as some of the groups I have had in the last two years. And I have found some letters that shocked me. I would like to think that 12 and 13 year olds would not know that kind of extremely vulgar language or write to each oher that way-but they do.
     
  21. wunderwhy

    wunderwhy Comrade

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    May 22, 2008

    Unfortunately I think this is the kind of behavior you see from troubled middle school aged boys. If the school is giving them consequences for your referrals, then there's not much else that can be done unless you feel the school has violated its protocol or failed to protect you in the punishments it has assigned.

    When I taught 7th grade, the teacher next door was a joke. It was so bad that the school hired a "tutor" who taught his classes for the second half of the year while he wandered around the school eating snacks (his parent was a big cheese in the central office so they weren't going to outright fire him). Before the tutor came, the kids were screaming really loudly and I heard one of my students yell, "Miss Wunderwhy, you can suck my hairy . . ." through the wall. And the teacher didn't even hear him. I had to march over there, identify him (not hard as I taught him too and he was still crouched by the wall with his hands cupped around his mouth), and send him to the office myself.

    And while I explained to him how insulting it was for him to make such a statement to me as a woman, I know he really didn't get it.

    I don't see these kinds of statements in high school, so I think by then the kids have learned the impact of those kinds of statements.

    Have you talked to an administrator about your frustration? I don't see how they can prevent troubled preteens from acting out, but they can understand your feelings and make you feel less put upon by it.

    Hang in there! The end is in sight!
     
  22. newteach@40

    newteach@40 Rookie

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    May 23, 2008

    For the record......I am 40. I think I heard somewhere that 40 is the new 30! I do not look 40 and I am not frumpy.
    Even if I were, it does not excuse the horrific behavior of middle school students. I have to agree that I do not see this as much in the high school. That said, I did experience an incident in the beginning of the school year when I was subbing in a tech class full of boys and one of them became sexually aroused. He did not even try to hide it! He was quite proud of himself! Didn't kids used get embarrassed by stuff like this????
    The administrators are following protocol,which ranges from a superintendent's conference to changing their schedule so that they are out of the regular population as much as possible. Like I said before, these kids are with me because they are ALREADY being punished! I also have to agree that there needs to be stricter guidelines in place to protect teachers and other students. This is obviously happening quite a bit! There must be consequences for such serious offenses, otherwise they just won't get it and will be in for a rude awakening when they get into the real world. This is what I try to tell them.
    Yes, I am counting down the days! Hopefully something else will come along!
     
  23. MrU82

    MrU82 Rookie

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    May 23, 2008

    wow..."dirty f'ing c*nt???"

    I didnt even know what that word meant in jr. high. Unbelievable. I know hitting kids is illegal but sometimes....sometimes...lol.
     
  24. each1teach1

    each1teach1 Cohort

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    May 23, 2008

    I remember sitting in my dorm room my third year of college and I was watching cops on TV and a lady was crying and she kept saying "he called me the c-word" and the cop was like "he called you the C-WORD?!?" And I was like what is the c-word?!?! Maybe I was too sheltered...
     
  25. newteach@40

    newteach@40 Rookie

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    I know, the whole thing is still hard to believe. When the principal told me to document everything, she said to say it all, spell out every word. That was even hard for me. I guess I was sheltered too. I'm not perfect by any means, but it's hard to believe the things how filthy some kids' mouth's are!
    I think it all goes back to not having consequences at home, starting at a young age. They throw the "f" word around like it's nothing and I ask if they talk that way at home. They say yes. I believe them.
     
  26. smarkham01

    smarkham01 Companion

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    May 23, 2008

    Caucasian???


    My experience has been that, even if they don't talk like that at home their parents do. What consequences are you referring to? A large, and growing, part of our population views these words as nothing more than words. While you and I might have been taught otherwise, most of the words, including the "magic 7" can be heard in movies and and television shows that these kids watch at home, if not at theaters. Most of these movies and and television shows are produced and distributed by corporations headed by good old conservatives who join the masses in decrying the sex and violence coming out of that darned liberal Hollywood.

    I don't know of any way to "handle" the problem, except to say don't take it personally?
     
  27. newteach@40

    newteach@40 Rookie

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    I try not to take it personally b/c - now I am definitely NOT making excuses- I know that sometimes people/kids lash out at those who are trying to help them and children learn what they live.
    I also know that some people only see these as "words" which is hard for me to understand. People must learn some basic ettiquette to make it in society. While I think I am balanced b/n liberal and conservative, I never let my children play certain video games when they were young or watch R rated movies until they were teens- depending on the film (conservative). However, they were taught to be tolerant of others and not to be prejudiced (liberal). A 15 yr old who refers to Anne Frank as a "friggen Jew" certainly has no concept of what she or others went through.
     
  28. smarkham01

    smarkham01 Companion

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    May 23, 2008

    Yes, some people do lash out at those trying to help them. Others lash out at authority figures, particularly at those times when such a response will elevate their prestige among their peers. Observing social etiquette would be wonderful, but for every rule of etiquette we devise, they have one more piece of ammunition to use in a shock attack. I would much rather see the world learn to ignore those words and concentrate on words such as "friggen Jew" that tend to portend much more than poor social etiquette.

    In my estimation, the 15 year old you mention doesn't have a conceptualizing problem; he suffers from an induced hatred of others for being who they are. No can, save those who have lived through the experience, can possibly conceive of what Anne Frank and others like here lived through. Most of us can, however, identify the fomenting hatred that permitted that to happen.

     

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