Posters, advertisements or messages written in sharpie are frequently seen in the bathroom stalls of our high school. The messages written by students are often negative. They frequently lament teachers, friends, grades and other struggles faced by adolescence.
The most recent posters displayed on our sharpie-ridden stalls attempt to raise awareness of sexual assault and include phone numbers and other resources to help students.
Photo by Abby Fleming '20. The Rowan Center in Stamford provided posters with 24/7 hotlines for sexual assault. They also included websites (itsonus.org and adcouncil.org) with free information about sexual assault.
The posters are taped inside the stalls, where they can be accessed more privately. Initiated by the Women in History class, the posters hang where students can read them in private, which is important because for victims of assault. For them, this sense of anonymity is essential.
Photo by Abby Fleming '20. The panel held at Toquet Hall played the movie, "The Hunting Ground" which tells stories of sexual assault on college campuses. This movie was also shown to junior health classes prior to their lesson with the Rowan Center representative.
According to a study from The American Association of University Women, 58 percent of students in seventh through 12th grade have experienced a form of sexual assault. Many of these victims face their pain alone and silently. In addition to putting hotlines and useful resources in school bathrooms, the Women in History class is raising awareness about assault as well. They also advertised an event they hosted at Toquet Hall on March 6 where they discussed sexual assault in college. Some posters were dedicated to advertising for this event.
Photo by Abby Fleming '20. The movie, "The Hunting Ground" is a documentary following women who were sexually assaulted in college. It names colleges that haven't helped victims and have only tried to silence them. The main women that the film follows are trying to win a lawsuit against these schools for their poor treatment of assault cases.
One poster is courtesy of the Rowan Center: A Sexual Assault Agency, located in Stamford, Connecticut. Their posters leave a phone number and links to websites with free information. Speakers from the agency have given their “Know Before You Go” lesson series to junior health classes, speaking about consent and what students will face in college in terms of the “rape culture”. Presentations and class lessons like these are helpful, but when it comes time to participate and ask questions, the room falls silent. Students don’t want to discuss such a touchy, and at times personal subject in front of peers and teachers.
The unfortunate truth is that sexual assault does exist in colleges, high schools and workplaces. Even though it might be hard to imagine, it exists at Staples, too. The Women in History class has done a commendable service to Staples students by acknowledging the problem and providing resources in a safe environment to help them.