Years of inaction and torment have led students in high schools to seek more help than ever before recorded. Looking at a broad spectrum everyone has either participated in, or been the victim of, sexual harassment or bullying. This epidemic has caused many students educational experiences to suffer as a result, putting their futures in jeopardy. Implementing educational initiatives, advocating for victims and managing exposure to harmful situations will lead to a safer environmentfor all vulnerable parties. Education is one of the leading ways that has been successfully used to stop or avoid bullying and harassment within high schools. To reduce risks pertaining to a student’s everyday life they must be aware of what they are in danger of. Teaching prevention methods and adamantly applying them a decrease in vulnerable parties will be noticeable.
The misguided, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me, ” has been taught throughout many schools worldwide to instill strength in students against negative comments. Through years of societal advancement, it is now known that pessimistic remarks can take a substantial toll on one’s mental health. Without proper education and guidance on all the contributing factors of both mental and sexual health, the perpetrators, and victims may not know the consequences of their action or inaction. Which could lead to many potential illnesses; depression, anxiety, eating disorders, PTSD, and many more. Marginalized students are subject to further oppression which “pushes a group to the edge of society by not allowing them an active voice, identity or place in it”. Whether directly or indirectly, these students may feel a deeper emotional trauma during this crucial age of maturation than others. Though some may argue that subjecting students to these risks is redundant, they can be removed of certain situations initially. The counter argument being that it is far more effective to teach everyone not to be a bully or harasser to begin with. Teenage development professionals indicate that “students must be taught the difference between friendly teasing and bullying, between flirting and harassment. Behaviour expectations must be clearly defined and explained; fair and consistent consequences need to be outlined and reinforced”.
Considering that many individuals do not know to what extent their words or actions are interpreted, it is unfair to assume one persons’ depiction of a story is correct and the other is not. Everyone reacts and perceives general situations differently, which can lead to a clouded view of what was intended. Someone may be labelled a bully or harasser when their true intention was merely to ‘tease’ or ‘joke’ with a peer. If all students are taught the different levels and emotions others feel in specific, vulnerable situations, they can understand the true harm they are causing, allowing all pupils to be aware of their actions, and the consequences that follow. Managing tyrannizing situations properly will ensure a reduced number of recurrences. If acts of rebellion against oppressed parties are not managed according to guidelines they can lead to further physical, emotional, and social harm. Harmful environments can drastically “affect the rights of young people to be safe and free from violence. Experiencing bullying, harassment can also interfere with young people’s right to education.
In order for schools’ staff to be able to say they have the best interests of students in mind, they must control and be equipped to handle situations that may infringe on their students’ rights to proper schooling and provide safe surroundings to learn in. If management is not dealt with appropriately, the repetition of these incidents will increase due to a powerful environment for offenders to thrive. Outlining consequences, with the assistance of informative posters will allow for potential perpetrators to be aware of risks they would be taking. Further enforcement of the listed regulations is required in order for desired influence on the pupils. Teachers should be subject to training in order for them to understand how to handle specific situations. Due to the unwarranted nature of bullying and harassment within schools, it “is not a normal part of growing up. It doesn’t usually go away on its own and often gets worse with time”. Which proves that cynical acts are not something that students should be subjected to at any point in their lives. Which allows for educators to be oblivious to the importance of understanding how to properly deal with these types of circumstances, to prevent them initially or from happening again. Showing strong support to victims of harmful acts within secondary school contributes to the intolerance of oppression and exploitation. Advocating for victims helps in opposing all areas of mistreatment through either only student relationships or student and teacher relationships. In advocating for victims, the oppressors feel as though their efforts to intimidate or influence others are not effective. Parents, guardians, and people of authority assume that members of a school’s staff always have the best interest of their students in mind but students from Owen Sound, Ontario were not this lucky. These adolescents had to have their parents’ step in and sue their school due to the rampant bullying and sexual harassment conditions, having a very negative effect on their educational environment.
Martha Mackinnon, executive director of Justice for Children and Youth said, “the easy fix to school boards seems to be you just to suspend the kid that did the bullying, which doesn’t fix anything”. Which in-turn proves that simply removing the bully from the situation will no teach others that these kinds of negative actions are not tolerable. In order for effective change in all parties, there must be a clear indication of the weakened environment in which will be offered to learn. Without action and proof of protection for victims there will not be a difference in people’s attitudes when getting bullied or sexually harassed, participating in such acts, or being a by-stander. In supporting others, it, consequently, protects us from feelings of neglect, oppression, and maltreatment.
With proper education, advocating and management of potential issues within schools, the negative effects resulting from bullying and sexual harassment will be significantly reduced. Educators, peers, and students themselves must, therefore, create strong and positive environments in hope that nothing intrudes on one’s safe educational rights. In deterring negative behaviours within high schools’, students will have a more positive outlook on life.
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