Is Sexual Harassment Normalized in Schools?

Elementary and middle schools insist that students wear school uniforms to encourage discipline and to reduce violence. Teachers ensure that students are regular in wearing their uniforms to ensure that they concentrate more on studies and less on their wardrobe. However, as we progress to high schools and colleges, we do not need to wear dull, bland uniforms. Instead, such institutions establish a dress code for us to follow.

Usually, the teachers overlook whatever the boys wear. Yet, such is not the case when it comes to girls. Girls do not enjoy much freedom when it comes to choosing their clothes. They need to wear “decent” clothes that do not reveal anything. Even bare shoulders are sternly frowned upon by the teachers.

Teachers play a significant part in a student’s life. They inspire, encourage, and build the children. By shaping the character of a child, they hold an enormous power to change the future. They motivate and guide a child to decide what he/she wants to become and how to attain the goal.

Everyone says and knows that these are the fundamental duties of a teacher. But have we ever been told what the teachers are NOT to do? They are NOT to shame a girl for being friendly with a boy. They are NOT to humiliate a student for wearing a crop top or a mini skirt. They are NOT to body shame. They are NOT to make inappropriate comments on a big-bosomed girl. They are NOT to gossip among themselves about the supposedly promiscuous girl in the class.

Now that we are clear on what teachers are to do and not to do, we move on to the crux of the topic. According to the news, students face sexual harassment in schools and colleges every day. This fact could seem shocking to those who are unaware of the current happenings in the country. But what is more surprising is that the schools do not make it a priority to keep this in check.

Recently, students have been making several severe allegations against the teachers. The reports range from inappropriate comments to non-consensual intercourse. Students reveal that teachers often corner them and judge them based on their articles of clothing. Some teachers refuse to grade the student’s projects unless they agree to go on a date with them.

Years and years of sexual harassment by teachers go unnoticed because the school conceals it to preserve its pride and reputation. Prompted by the lack of surveillance, the teachers have made sexual harassment a habit. Schools meant to be havens are becoming the plight of students.

When the reports of sexual harassment finally come to light, people make it seem like it is not a big issue. It is downright disgusting to hear people make excuses for the behavior of the offenders. They justify that sexual harassment is a deep-rooted issue in society and that the teachers are not to blame. Furthermore, they argue that punishing them is not the answer.

Such reactions from the people make students anxious to come clean about the harassment. They tend to keep it to themselves and bottle up their feelings, which profoundly affects their mental health. They struggle with psychological problems, which could also affect physical health. They suffer from panic attacks and stress disorders. The list goes on if I kept talking about the negative impact sexual harassment plays on a student’s life.

It is high time that we change our mindset and make it easier for the children to come forward about their inner conflicts. They are more likely to seek help if they are believed and taken seriously. Every victim should be provided the right platform to express their grievances. Every offender should face punishment for his deeds. Change needs to start within every one of us. Wrong is wrong. No amount of ignorance should justify the wrong. Sexual harassment in schools MUST not be normalized.