“Know someone that has been bullied?” Tell an adult today! They will listen to you. As the SafeVoice posters were distributed throughout the Clark County School District campus, students felt like they were progressively feeling safer. However, it wasn’t until an eighth-grade student filed an incident for sexual harassment on December 7, 2018. She faced online sexual harassment that occurred on school campus based off a rumor that she had sex with another student that had a crush on her, she turned down these statements. “I went to the dean and she told me to ‘calmly’ deny all these false claims, I told him I did and he did nothing to the identified perpetrator,” the eighth-grader, kept anonymous, reported. When it comes to anti-bullying campaigns and school safety programs, the administration does all it can to make their school look good, however, are the students really safe? What is being done about sexual harassment on school campuses? For over a year in the fifth largest school district in the nation, there has been an ongoing issue of sexual harassment culture on school campuses, the administration knows when there is an incident but does nothing about it.
Governor Sandoval announced the week of October 3–7 to be the Week of Respect for all CCSD schools. “Students need to work as hard as they can to make their environment a safe and bully-free zone” Even though there have been several campaigns like “Stomp Out Bullying” and “Anti-Bullying Awareness Day” on CCSD campus, the issue of sexual harassment has not been handled. Administrators are still not charging perpetrators for the acts they commit. Why do these campaigns even happen in the first place? The main reason is to make Las Vegas school districts look good. In this past school year, there have been 14,000 sexual harassment cases that have been reported on CCSD campus, however, very few get resolved in which the perpetrator face charges. When schools host these campaigns and assemblies, it is seldom that they will actually do something. In fact, the high reports of sexual harassment continue as the admin does nothing about these cases throughout the different school campuses in the Clark County School District.
SafeVoice, a common program that all schools have been using since its debut a little bit over two years ago has been recognized by the Clark County School District Board of Education along with the Legislative Committee of Education. “Safe Voice is an amazing reporting system that uses anonymous tips to make K-12 students feel safer, whether it revolves around bullying, harassment, or suicide attempt.” The committee of education brought up these resources. But are they really useful? The answer is quite simple. No, they do not combat the several incidents of sexual harassment. Julia Wildanez a high school sophomore explained her experience using SafeVoice, “ I don’t feel safe at my school after I have been groped by a random student, the admin said they were ‘too busy to handle my case’ so I turned to SafeVoice to help me. However, the weeks went by and the athlete who groped me faced no charges. The school does not care about us.” SafeVoice does not help the victims of sexual harassment. They let perpetrators get away with a crime like the Monopoly “Get Out of Jail Free Card”.
In March 2018, a soccer player groped a seventh-grader without her consent. The seventh-grader student reported the case to the principal, however, the principal only talked and told the perpetrator to “knock it off.” However, the same soccer player was caught a Juul in the bathroom and received a suspension for “toxic substance presented on school campus.” What the admin did wrong in this case was that they completely disregarded the sexual harassment incident, they were more concerned about the student with the Juul in the bathroom by himself over a case that harmed and affected another student’s mental health, academic performance, and behavior. The schools do not prioritize safety and the well being of students, but instead substances that can “harm the overall school’s public image”.
It is first unacceptable that school officials brush off the situation and do not care about the students. A school counselor at Clark High School responds to the cases by saying “There are too many students with mental health concerns or incidents of sexual harassment, in a school with over 3,000 students, we simply cannot help that many students with overwhelming reports.” The number of students a school has should not be an excuse for disregarding these reports. There has been a dramatic surge in the number of students skipping school behind an incident revolving around sexual harassment that has not been handled. Along with the plausible dropout rates from sexual harassment towards the students, there is an increase in violent behavior. A teacher from Desert Pines observed a student’s behavioral change when they shared their incident revolving around sexual harassment, “ There was a significant decline in my student’s work ethic, the student received a D average and may not be able to graduate.” The Clark County School District is considered one of the worst school districts in the nation with a graduation rate of 85%, even though there was a graduation increase in 2018, the disregarded sexual harassment cases can reduce this graduation rate. There may also be a change in behavior along with academic performance.
The CCSD reported a surge in violent behavior among students, where there was a 55 percent increase in criminal and violent behavior from past incidents. Students who were sexually harassed at a younger age are more likely to express violent behavior because of the lack of resources the school has to offer. There are no resources for the victims of sexual harassment, the students need someone they can talk to, a reliable safe space, and justice.
With the disregard of the sexual harassment reports on campus, schools can change by taking more initiative into the situation instead of depending on SafeVoice. Looking at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Noelle Masangkay discusses the plethora of resources students receive when an incident revolving around sexual harassment occurs. “ The University has several resources for victims, there are plenty of safe spaces in which you can confide to, but the Jean Nidetch Women’s Center is the biggest resource. When there is an incident that occurs, they send timely crime alerts to notify the entire school so others can stay vigilant.” The University informs the students with the recent incidents which haves them cooperate with other students to keep the campus as safe as possible.
The President of the University of Nevada Las Vegas Marta Meana sent an email back in October in response to multiple harassment incidents. “The incidents on campus are deeply disturbing in that we simply cannot tolerate. This has to stop and everyone has to be a part of the solution. We are acting now.” The President’s email to over 20,000 students showed how the university responds to these situations immediately. In fact, when the perpetrator is not identified, they take the next step to simply “Assert our values and let them know in uncertain terms that the conduct does not belong” along with listening to student reports of who the possible perpetrators may be. CCSD school officials need to learn from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, the university has a larger student body in which their policies and resources for victims of sexual harassment are much more effective. The CCSD campus needs to implement better policies that have principals and the dean of students act when there is an incident of sexual harassment. In other words, teachers need to better communicate with what is going on to their students and principals needs to discipline perpetrators regardless of their background.
It can also be helpful to have actual adult allies that listen and take the situation seriously. Teachers need to receive adequate training to respond to these situations and find ways to help the victim of sexual harassment and advocate on behalf of the student to the administration about the incident. A teacher at Chaparral High School offers emotional support “I am all ears, but when there is an incidence of sexual harassment, us teachers need to respond by not only listening and nodding, but my pushing the admin to charge the perpetrator.” The teacher not only gives the students hope but shows other teachers throughout the valley that this is something all teachers need to do. “Even though some may not be comfortable in handling incidents of sexual harassment, teachers should go through training or learn how they should handle the cases instead of brushing students off their sleeves.” It is a CCSD teachers job not only to teach for a student’s future but their job to ensure the safety and well-being of a CCSD student. When the administration is ignoring the recent sexual harassment incidents, teachers need to step up and bring up the situation and push for disciplinary measures on the perpetrator. The more adult allies students have on campus, the safer they may feel; they can report their concerns and talk about these concerns knowing they have someone to rely on.