Sexual harassment and sexual assault in high schools and universities occurs with alarming frequency throughout the United States. While the most publicized of these incidents are committed by adults, students are also frequently subjected to sexual harassment and sexual assault by other students.
The 2015 Steubenville case was one of the most well-publicized of these incidents, when members of the Steubenville football team allegedly sexually assaulted an unconscious girl over the course of several hours.
Student Sexual Assault Statistics
Teachers and professors are the most common perpetrators of sexual harassment and sexual assault on young people because they have the opportunity to work alone with children and are in a position of authority that allows them to easily meet victims.
One in ten students in grades 8 through 11 reported that they were the victim of one or more abuses from a teacher or other school employee, and two-thirds of those incidents involved physical contact.
While adult on student sexual assault garners most of the headlines, sexual assaults by peers is far more common. According to a study conducted by the Associated Press, for every adult-on-student sexual assault reported on school property there were seven sexual assaults by students.
Sexual assault can happen in a school bathroom, on a school playground, in the back of school buses, or in an empty classroom.
According to a 2011 survey by the American Association of University Women, sexual harassment is pervasive and junior high and high schools. Girls are more likely than boys to experience sexual harassment, with 13% of girls reporting that they’d been touched in an “unwelcome sexual way” and 4% reporting that they’d been forced to do something sexual.
According to a 2008 study, 53% of girls are sexually assaulted by a peer, and 39% of those sexual assaults occurred at school.
Twelve percent of high school girls in the same study reported being raped by a peer.
The Effect of Sexual Assault in High Schools and Universities
Sexual assault can have a devastating effect on its victims. It can take years, sometimes even decades for a victim to come to terms with the sexual assault and report the incident, even though rumors and whispers may start the next day.
Many students keep quiet, sometimes for years, because they are embarrassed or because perpetrators threaten violence against them or their families.
Schools have a duty to keep students safe, and are required to investigate allegations of bullying and sexual violence, wehther perpetrated by adults or other students.
Federal Law Prohibits Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault (Title IX)
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sexual discrimination in educational institutions that reveice federal funding. This includes sexual assault and sexual harassment.
While Title IX was originally used to ensure equal opportunities for girls in athletics, the law also prohibits sexual assault and sexual harassment in American schools.
Schools are required to have policies in place that prohibit sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual assault. Once a school has been notified of possible sexual harassment or sexual assault of any of its students, the school is required to investigate and take immediate and appropriate steps to stop the harassment and prevent it from happening again.
To succeed, the family of a victim must be able to show that the school:
Knew or should have known that the victim was the victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault
Could have predicted that the sexual harassment or sexual assault would happen again
Did not take reasonable steps to prevent the sexual harassment or sexual assault
Robenalt Law Is Here to Help Victims of Sexual Assault in High Schools and Universities
Robenalt Law helps people who have been victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault, and works to hold perpetrators and the school accountable.
Robenalt Law will:
Help make sure your child receives the medical and psychological attention she or he needs
Work with outside experts, including doctors and counselors
Handle media requests to maintain your child and your family’s privacy
Handle depositions and witness interviews
If your child was a victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault, seek legal help immediately. Early intervention can help get your child the psychological and medical help she or he needs, and litigation can help ensure that the school and anyone else involved will stop the attacker from hurting other children.
Tom Robenalt started his litigation career at a large firm in Cleveland where he defended institutions and employees accused of sexual assault and sexual harassment. For the past 25 years, he has used that experience to help victims and the families of those injured by negligent health care providers.
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