Have you ever been in a setting without pepper spray on you? How about a pocket knife? Have you ever been in a situation where you felt unsafe in a learning environment due to sexual innuendos? We live in a world where thousands of women must carry self-defense weapons in case a man tries to harm them. Yet, every person should have the right to go to work without fear, discomfort, or humiliation. We deserve it, and we deserve it now. Sexual harassment in learning and working environments is a pervasive problem that requires immediate attention and action to ensure all individuals’ safety, dignity, and well-being. We, as people, can take a stand against this abuse in many ways. Having Congress implement and establish a two-strike system, as well as regular sexual harassment prevention training for all organizations and communities, will ensure that people in learning environments are more educated on sexual harassment, how to prevent it, and the consequences if they do engage in it.

Experiencing sexual harassment can cause psychological effects, which can lead to trauma and lifetime outcomes. Victims can suffer from anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, lowered self-esteem, and sexual dysfunction (Consequences of Sexual Harassment). Not only can this impact their social life, but their learning life. Victims of sexual harassment may lack the motivation to go to school, may drop a class, or might even quit their jobs. Failure to address or proactively prevent sexual harassment carries significant ramifications, leaving a lasting impact on the lives of those who have endured the harassment.

We must do more to advocate against sexual harassment, clarify why it’s illegal, and how it damages individuals and organizations. Having Congress implement and establish a two-strike system, as well as sexual harassment prevention training for all organizations and communities, is the first step. The objective of sexual harassment training is to enhance awareness and improve the ability to identify sexual harassment in the workplace. It also serves to educate employees about the company’s policies and procedures for addressing any instances of misconduct with a sexual nature. Additionally, Congress can implement a two-strike rule against all organizations and communities. This system aims to bring the consequences of actions to life. Upon the first reported incident of sexual harassment, the accused would be put on probation. The victim and the accused will receive support throughout this process to ensure a just resolution. However, in the event of a second verified offense, the accused will face significant repercussions, including suspension or termination, depending on the severity. The two-strike approach and prevention classes emphasize education and the opportunity for individuals to learn from their mistakes and hold them accountable for their actions.

There are a lot of arguments, specifically regarding the victim, that call sexual harassment into question. However, one is to be emphasized is the “Why did it take so long to report it?” argument. This argument is a common discrediting tactic, where people ask why there was a delay in reporting such a crime. However, when most people experience sexual harassment, they have a fright or flight response. (“These Arguments Are Often Used Against Victims of Workplace Harassment”) Victims have experienced shame, disgust, and confusion. Additionally, people may feel so disoriented by the harassment that they do not have the strength to talk about the incident until they have processed it. Furthermore, victims can develop PTSD, depression, or other mental effects that can prevent them from speaking out. These adverse psychological effects of abuse are detrimental, and nobody wants to experience these types of feelings.

As a high-school student on her way to college, it is sickening to say that women between 18 – 24 who are in college are three times more likely to be sexually assaulted. Additionally, women under 18 and not in college are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted, and 66% of females who get sexually assaulted are ages 12 – 17 (Victims of Sexual Violence: Statistics). Reading these statistics, writing this essay, and reading individuals’ stories about how they have endured such hardships remind me of the importance of addressing this issue head-on. I should not have to fear for my rights and body at such an age when I should focus on my education. I should not have to walk the halls in fear of the statistics. I should not worry about whether I will be the next victim at 15. Reading people’s stories about how sexual harassment and abuse have destroyed their lives makes me thankful that I have parents and an educational system who care for my well-being and safety. However, not everyone has that, so we need to speak now. This call to action resonates with my most sincere sense of empathy and justice, motivating me to advocate for a workplace where everyone can thrive free from the shadows of harassment.

There is always a time to use your voice. I am using mine now to speak out about the effects of sexual harassment and why it needs to end. In a world that demands justice, equality, and dignity for all, the two-strike system and prevention classes stand as a robust solution for combating sexual harassment in the workplace. This approach is a compelling step towards achieving these ideals within the professional sphere.

Written By:

Vivien Birch

Grade 10

Benjamin Banneker HS