This.Is.Not.Okay.

While surfing Huffington Post today, I came across this report and was stunned, because is said that:

“Heather Hlavka, a sociologist at Marquette University, analyzed interviews with 100 girls between ages three and 17 who may have experienced sexual assault. Overwhelmingly, their accounts indicated that sexual violence had been normalized in their communities. They considered harassment an everyday part of life rather than a criminal act”.

NOT OKAY

How can it be that the next generation of young girls thinks it’s “normal” to experience sexual assault and harassment? Where are the adults — such as teachers, counselors, and principals — to give out consequences for these offenses in schools?  Are the schools too large to catch this?  Is there anonymity in such large groups?  And where are the positive role models for these offenders?  Where are their parents or caregivers?

So many questions entered my mind.  I remember being harassed by a boy in 8th grade, and I was so upset that I began crying.  Immediately, my teacher asked me what was wrong. I told him, and suddenly the boy was punished – suspended – for his horrendous behavior toward me.  Would such swift action occur in today’s schools?  Does the size of the school determine the response (or lack thereof) to such behavior?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I did some research to find out how to find help. Here are some useful tools to use if you are being harassed or harmed:

1) Call the National Center for Victims of Crime and visit their Teen Bulletin for Sexual Assault.

2) Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.

3) Tell a trusted adult.

4) Try to not be alone with the offender.

5) Remember, this is not your fault, and there is no shame in seeking medical treatment if needed.

The most important thing to remember is that it is not normal to experience or to commit sexual assault or sexual harassment.  If you or someone you know is being hurt physically, verbally, or emotionally, please seek help and be safe.

Jerri Sparks is a single mom (of three teens and one pre-teen) living in Western New York.  A former Congressional press secretary and a UCLA alum, Ms. Sparks now works in the BioPharma Research industry by day and is a freelance writer by night, advocating for the things she’s passionate about.  This may or may not involve Wonder Woman. Contact her at jerri@germmagazine.com.

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