A Free Resource for Preventing Sexual Harassment in Schools: The American Association of University Women (AAUW) Educational Foundation Offers a New Guide Online. (We Hear from Readers)

Article excerpt

AAUW Educational Foundation, Washington, D.C.:

Harassment-Free Hallways: How to Stop Sexual Harassment in Schools is a hands-on guide to help schools, parents and students put an end to sexual harassment and bullying in schools. This user-friendly resource is the result of a collaborative effort on the part of a national task force convened by AAUW to address these troubling issues that continue to be a problem in our nation's schools.

"Despite the adoption and publication of anti-harassment policies, incidents of violence, sexual harassment and bullying in our schools have continued. It's time to take these policies off the shelf and put them into action. If we don't, we are condemning these policies to the dustbin and our children to an unsafe and unwelcoming learning environment," said AAUW Executive Director Jacqueline Woods.

This alarming paradox of more policies with no progress is spelled out in the statistics. In the AAUW Educational Foundation's 2001 report, Hostile Hallways: Bullying, Teasing, and Sexual Harassment in School, statistics showed that seven in 10 students (69 percent) said their school had a policy on sexual harassment, compared to less than three in 10 (26 percent) in 1993. In 2001, as in 1993, four out of five students--both boys and girls--said they had experienced sexual harassment at school.

Members of the task force were brought together from every level of interest in this issue. From national education leaders to students, task force members compiled a comprehensive record of programs that have succeeded in reducing the incidence of sexual harassment in schools.

"Fighting sexual harassment in school is everyone's job," said Woods. "Combating harassment requires a commitment by schools, teachers, parents and students to the hard work of learning how to respond to harassment and holding perpetrators accountable. Our resource guide provides the necessary tools."

Below are some of the recommended practical steps included in the resource guide.

School administrators and boards:

Can make clear to school personnel that they have an obligation to report any harassment they witness or learn about.

Can educate parents about sexual harassment through meetings and enlist their support. …