Recently the results of a major national survey were released by the American Association of University Women, which found that during the 2010-11 school year, 48 percent of students in grades 7-12 experienced some form of sexual harassment in person or electronically via texting, email, and social media.
This Reminds Me:
A mom recently shared with me this heroic story about her daughter, a freshman at The University of North Carolina. We’ll call her Kate, although that’s not her real name. Kate is a former Athena’s Path participant and intern, and I could not be more proud of her bravery and intelligence in a very scary situation.
On a Saturday night this past September, Kate and her friend, Claire (not her real name), were riding a crowded campus bus from an 18-and-older club back to the dorms. While Kate and Claire were standing, holding onto a pole, Kate felt a hand reach up her skirt. It belonged to a drunk male student sitting behind her. She turned, told him to stop, and tried to scoot away as best she could. I will refer to the offender in this post as a man, not a boy, because even though he is a student at UNC, his actions are not those of a boy. The man made vulgar comments. The next thing she new, he had his hand up her friend’s skirt and had ripped her tights. Kate and Claire both yelled at him to stop. Then Kate did something very smart. She took out her phone and snapped his picture.
At the next stop the man got off the bus. Kate and Claire waited one more stop then got off, too. Once they were off the bus, Kate called the police to meet them at the stop. When they arrived, the girls filed sexual assault charges and Kate texted the photo she took to the police station.
Based on her quick thinking the police were able to send out an all campus alert that there was a sexual predator on that specific bus. Other riders then came forward with their eyewitness accounts. Based on the girls’ quick action, photo ID, and other witnesses, the man had no choice but to turn himself in. He is now waiting to appear before the UNC Honor Court and is also awaiting trial for criminal charges in Orange County.
This Also Reminds Me:
When I was 9 years old I saw an episode of The Facts of Life entitled “Fear Strikes Back” in which Natalie was attacked while walking home from a costume party. After, she felt powerless and began to withdraw from her life. She took a self-defense class where she told the instructor her assailant had a weapon but she did not…so she couldn’t fight back. The instructor pointed out she could have used the cane from her Charlie Chaplin costume against her attacker. I remember feeling as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes. Why had I, like Natalie, failed to see the potential of the cane as a weapon? I had that same feeling when Kate’s mom told me the story of her assault. I had never thought of the cell phone as such a powerful weapon against an assailant!
What a brave and bold move Kate made. I’m proud of her for thinking fast and taking action. In light of the recent study on sexual harassment in 7th – 12th grade, let’s remind our sons and daughters early and often of all the weapons they have in their arsenals to take action against people who try to take advantage of them.
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