Thursday, 8 December 2011

How to Teach Sexual Harassment

This video was shown at a school in St. Albert during a Grade 7 English class in to generate a discussion about a book they were studying (we're hoping the book was about sexual harassment in some way). Apparently the showing of the video caused quite a stir amongst students, parents, faculty and staff, and the teacher who showed the video is currently on leave. Amongst ourselves, this video generated much discussion about teaching sexual harassment in the school system and what is the best way to approach the subject. Sexual harassment is a very important topic to educate our students about. It is a prevalent issue and they may come in contact with some form of it in the future, but is this video a helpful tool? What are the important elements for an effective sexual harassment lesson plan? Are there better resources that we should be looking at (if so, which ones)?

For more information on this particular case check out these articles:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The problem with this video is that it is absolutely ridiculous. The acting is godawful and the scenarios are so exaggerated as to be laughable. Not only that, but adult workplace sexual harassment is unlikely to be encountered by grade 7 students. Absolutely it was inappropriate to show. No person in their right mind would take these people seriously, nor does it pertain to 12 year olds' lives. I take less offense to the sexual language than I do to the pathetic representations of sexual harassment. It makes it look like sexual harassment is always an overt, obvious event that is easy to identify and take action against.
This in itself is likely the biggest problem in sexual education. At least when I was in school, sexual harassment was always something that was easily identifiable and wrong. This is usually not the case. They don't teach that sexual harassment is usually not an isolated inappropriate incident but often a series of events and development of a relationship that eventually becomes subtly manipulative so far into the relationship that it is hard to get out of. They don't teach how sexual perpetrators manipulate their prey into trusting relationships, or how sexual jokes are often completely accepted in the workplace/school environment and to stand up to them makes you an outcast. Or how corporations generally ignore complaints of sexual harassment, writing them off as "oh he's just a really physical person, that's how he connects with his staff".
Sexual harassment is often an extremely grey area. It is nowhere near as black and white as sexual education makes it out to be. Men and women interact in a sexual way. We flirt with each other to get what we want. We dress attractively in order to gain respect. Physical attractiveness is a proven factor in job success (especially for women). How far is too far? Obviously when someone is made to feel sexually uncomfortable, but where do you draw that line? These are the issues that should be explored in further depth in the education system.