#MeToo, #TimesUp gains momentum to move Americans towards education, change

James Dralle, Associate Editor

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South uses nation-wide movement to share student stories, put end to harassment.

Allegations of harassment plague today’s media. From official news sites to blogs everywhere, troubling reports and stories reveal verbal and sexual harassment. Yet, there seems to be a light in the darkness. The current allegations floating in the media have started numerous campaigns to end harassment and serve as a platform for victims to come forward.

The #TimesUp movement ignited when over 300 powerful women in Hollywood decided to take a stand against harassment, discrimination, and abuse.

Leading up to the Golden Globes, the hashtag gained traction when actresses Natalie Portman and Viola Davis made posts via Instagram and Twitter. The #TimesUp hashtag was tweeted more than 473,900 times and the #MeToo movement was tweeted 174,300 times.

But before the #TimesUp movement, the hashtag #MeToo appeared on many social media accounts across the nation. Actress Alyssa Milano used her twitter account to encourage women to tweet #MeToo after revealing Harvey Weinstein’s grotesque behavior. The hashtag was tweeted more than half a million times since the middle of October.

Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the 2018 Golden Globes won the popularity of many men and women across the nation as well. Winfrey addressed sexual harassment throughout Hollywood, and made it clear that if we all unite and communicate, nobody will need to say “me too” again.

The movement has also won the hearts of wide range of audience, from victims affected by harassment to concerned followers to want to bring awareness to what’s being done. But, this also brought attention outside the media. It raises the question: how common is harassment in our school environment?

On Jan. 11 I decided to post a poll on twitter. The poll was titled, “Have you ever been harassed at school?” and it was up for 24 hours. Out of 131 voters, 51% said they in some way felt harassed. The percentage roughly falls to around 67 people out 0f 131.
Before the poll, I made a post about it on my Instagram. Being in close touch to my friends, I received nine stories centered around harassment, either sexual or verbal. Each story was very personal and took a lot of courage to share.
The negative trend of sexual harassment made its way here, at South. Out of the nine students who shared, four said they experienced accounts of sexual harassment.

An anonymous source from South said she experienced multiple accounts of verbal and sexual harassment in her previous school experiences.

“Well there’s (someone) who would constantly check out my butt at the sports events and then felt the need to tell me about it, so every game after that I wouldn’t feel comfortable unless I had a long shirt on,” anonymous source said. “Once I started wearing longer shirts, he left me alone”.

The unwanted attention didn’t stop there, but gradually got worse. She claimed the harassment lasted three weeks.
“He constantly used to pick me up, which isn’t too bad. I just don’t like being picked up,” anonymous source said. “That then led to him getting very touchy on my legs and chest.”

The source said she slapped the student multiple times and told the student to stop, but the behavior didn’t stop there. She also said the student kissed her when she didn’t want him to.

The source was also was physically assaulted, claiming a student went to grab her face and “accidently” slapped her in the face.
A different anonymous victim from South also experienced harassment on a sexual level after receiving the unwanted attention of a man. She said he started to force himself onto her.

“This year was especially rough for me because one boy seemed to think that me being dressed up and dancing was an excuse to touch me,” the anonymous source said. “I naturally put him in his place, but my friends kept telling me to calm down. I think I was just so tired of seeing disrespectful boys all night trying to grab my friends that I couldn’t.”

The anonymous victim said throughout the night she continued to witness other boys dance on their friends without asking.
Julieta Sanjuanico, junior, experienced sexual harassment while in class freshman year. After being offered Spanish candy from a classmate, she accepted but then experienced forceful behavior.
“I don’t know why he thought it was okay but he put his hand on my thigh,” Sanjuanico said. “It wasn’t low; it was pretty high up.”
Sanjuanico said she experienced the most uncomfortable feeling and has never felt so scared in her entire life.
Verbal harassment also made its way into South’s environment, according to one source.

An anonymous junior said while walking to one her classes, she was “cat-called” by another student.

The definition of verbal harassment is a negative defining statement told to a victim. The following accusations were more than negative, and left each of the victims terrified and uncomfortable.

“I never thought harassment in school was an issue I’d ever have to deal with until it happened just a few months ago,” the anonymous source said. “I’m quiet in school and I don’t involve myself with many people I’m not comfortable with. But one day on my way to math class some guy stared me up and down.”

The anonymous source said the student yelled out derogatory statements about specific parts of her body.
The anonymous junior also said there are many environments that involve unwanted attention and stressful social situations, and she noted they need to stop.

Stephanie Hart, a local college student, suffered repetitive amounts of verbal bullying and harassment before she switched schools, often being told to kill herself everyday by people she didn’t know. She ended up transferring schools to put an end to her torment.

“It’s like you think the administration is there to protect you because no student should feel unsafe at school but like when there’s 2,000 some kids in a school they don’t always have the time to,” Hart said.

Influencial speakers and leaders across the country say now is the perfect opportunity to fight against harassment. Instead of following a sequence of dismissive actions, school systems, students, and teachers find ways to change negative and harmful environments.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing harassment or abuse, seek a trusted adult like your parents or counselor. You can also reach out to hotlines like the sexual assault line at 1-800-656-HOPE.

*Harassment at School poll conducted by James Dralle, Associate Editor of the Paw Print
*All harassment graphics designed by Emily
Sherrill, Business Manager of the Paw Print

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