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Helping your Troubled Teen Daughter Handle Sexual Harassment

from the Academy of Eastern Arizona
Some years ago a little girl asked Jonathan Prevette, a boy in her first grade class in Lexington, North Carolina, to kiss her on the cheek. When Jonathan complied, his teacher sent him to the principal who suspended him for sexual harassment. The Jonathan Prevette case made headlines around the world as an example of American political correctness gone berserk. As for Jonathan, he didn’t really understand the charges against him, and was upset only because he missed an ice cream party at school.

The Prevette case was silly and uncalled for. On the other hand, the case of fifth grader Lashonna Davis was far from silly. The Davis case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and set the standard for sexual harassment cases in schools.

Parents of troubled teen daughters should understand that sexual harassment is a legal matter, and that the law is on the side of the victim. Schools have a responsibility to stop any sexual harassment of students.

Lashonna Davis was an outgoing, fun-loving child who enjoyed school until a fellow fifth grader began abusing her. He would touch her breasts and genitals, and make lewd remarks throughout the day. Lashonna’s mother went to the school a number of times and repeatedly asked her daughter’s teacher and principal to discipline the boy or move Lashonna’s seat away from her abuser. The school did nothing for months. Meanwhile Lashonna grew moody and suicidal.

Her mother sued the school under Title IX Act of the Constitution, alleging that her daughter was losing her right to public education because of a form of sexual discrimination. The Supreme Court agreed but put limits on a student’s right to sue a school or school district—thus protecting students against extreme harassment and protecting the schools against frivolous lawsuits.

In her majority ruling in Aurelia Davis v. Monroe County (Georgia) Board of Education, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor described sexual harassment as Severe, pervasive, offensive, and disruptive enough to keep a student from equal educational opportunities guaranteed by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Keep in mind the Prevette and Davis cases when you think about sexual harassment. Your Daughter should be able to handle the normal playground incidents of childhood, but she should not be expected to learn in an environment of serious and on-going sexual harassment. Unfortunately, according to a major 2004 study by The American Association of University Women, 83% of girls have experienced harassment at school. Some of it is physical harassment, such as forced kissing or having clothes pulled off. The girls reported that most of the time, such harassment occurred in front of teachers.

Is the harassment unwelcome? "Unwelcome" is a major word in the Title Law. Harassment can be unwelcomed even if the victim has not asked the harasser to stop. Victims are often too afraid to speak up.

The Academy of Eastern Arizona, located in Holbrook, Arizona is to provide a safe, positive environment where each troubled teen girl is able to learn and apply the Values of Responsibility, Self Respect, Respect for Authority, and Self Motivation. Reach them by phone at:(866) 698-3362. See our listing on ISER.COM

Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.


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