Monday, July 30, 2007

Yes, You Know Your School Had One Too

Me should be in bed.

But I want to steal a quote from a commenter over at Shakesville/Shakespeare's Sister because it pins down exactly why all the hand wringing over the poor boys in this case is getting on my nerves.

....Kids in school are forced to put up with all kinds of abuse, even when teachers SEE it, and hitting back can get you expelled. If the boys had touched female teachers on the bottom and breast, they would have been immediately punished for the unthinkably inappropriate behavior. "Lots of kids at school do that," is being used as an excuse because middle school girls are so powerless. People question out loud whether the boys really did anything wrong are really wondering how middle school girls got the balls to inconvenience parents, teachers, law enforcement, the courts, and boys with promising futures, by complaining when they were molested.

- greenmorgaine

(emphasis mine)

If we can expect kids to respect their teachers, we can expect kids to respect each other.

We let kids get away with a lot of shit in the under the guise of expecting them to work it out themselves. But when the larger culture excuses or condones bad behavior it is our responsibility to step in - no matter their age - and tell them it's not ok after all.

Sexual harassment is a serious issue in schools and needs to be dealt with appropriately and definitively.

If for no other reason (as if kids harassing kids wasn't reason enough) than because places where crap like this goes on - which is pretty much everywhere - are also places where the people in charge turn a blind eye to adult behavior as well. We may wring our hands over child rapists and the like constantly, that doesn't stop us from ignoring the very real harassment that adults often put children through.

I do not want to have the same commiserating talk with my niece that I had with my younger cousin - the one about the middle school teacher who puts all the pretty/big breasted girls near the front.

And until kids feel safe speaking out when they've been wronged by their peers, we won't have much success in dealing with harassment from people in positions of power.

edited to add:

Why did I make the jump from kids to adult offenders so quickly, despite my last two lines below? Because both my cousin and I were pulled out of particular subjects because of such teachers. Kathy's point about the lawyers "boys with bright futures" sound bite reminded me of that, and of how sexist that line is. No talk of how the girls lives are affected by such behavior. No talk about the jr. high school science geek who couldn't take science her ninth grade year because the teacher was a sexist pervert who was later convicted of molestation. No talk about girls that have had to make similar choices to avoid peers that the people in charge refused to deal with - and I know of quite of few such girls.

(I really, really need to smash something right now.)

end edit

PS, re the whole sex offender registry, greenmorgaine also has this to say:

I also want to point out how screwed up it is that a law supposedly intended to protect people from sex offenders is causing people to propose letting sex offenders walk away without even misdemeanor charges.

The sex offender registry needs to be fixed or scrapped. We need to stop giving kids adult punishments.

And I really think that's all that needs to be said on that subject.

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