Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Title IX toolkit for high school

For those worried that Title IX might be too effective at colleges, Title IX advocates have now published a helpful guide for high school students:

The toolkit has lots of useful information. Plus some interesting details about about avoiding the police : (emphasis original)

Regardless of your choice, this is an administrative process that takes place entirely within your school; it does not involve the criminal legal system. However, if you are under 18, and experienced certain kinds of violence (e.g., rape, sexual assault, or physical abuse), school officials may be required to disclose your case to the police, which could trigger a criminal (outside of the school) investigation. More information on this concern is available in the FAQ resource.

The FAQ explains:

Teachers or counselors may be good people to talk to about violence or harassment you’ve experienced or are experiencing. If you are under age 18, though, some of these people may be required by mandatory reporting laws to disclose certain kinds of abuse to a government agency, such as law enforcement, child protective services, or a child abuse reporting hotline.


Typically, mandatory reporters must make a report when they, in their official capacitysuspect or have reason to believe that a child has been abused or neglected. In making their report, they are typically asked to provide the name, address, gender, and age of the victim; the name and address of the victim’s parents/guardians; the nature of the abuse; and the name of the perpetrator. (For an example of requirements, see these mandatory reporting requirements in Connecticut). Child protective services or law enforcement may then open an investigation. Mandatory reporters are typically not required by law to alert your parents/guardians to the abuse, although they are generally not prohibited from doing so.
While the goal of mandatory reporting is to keep you safe, the decision to tell someone what happened (or what’s happening) can be difficult; you should always do what feels safest for you. If you would like to seek help without triggering a report, try speaking in hypotheticals to counselors, doctors, or other adults with whom you feel comfortable. Try “What if I had a friend whose classmate touched her in a way she wasn’t okay with?” or “What should my friend do next?”You can also call a hotline and decline to tell them your age. A list of hotlines is available here. 

Apparently Title IX advocates are capable of describing well-meaning laws that have counter-intuitive negative impacts without any sense of irony.

After explaining how to avoid the police, the FAQ continues:

What if my assailant doesn’t go to my school?
Title IX can still protect you but, as OCR explains in its FAQ Guide, “the appropriate response for your school to take will differ depending on the level of control your school has over the alleged perpetrator.” For example, if you were sexually assaulted by an athlete or band member from a visiting school, your school may not be able to discipline the perpetrator. However, your school should investigate what happened, report the incident to the visiting school, and encourage the visiting school to take further preventative action. Your school should also notify you of any right to file a complaint with the visiting school or local law enforcement, and may decide not to invite the visiting school back to campus.
As OCR explains, even though a school’s ability to take direct action against a particular perpetrator may be limited, your school must still take steps to provide you appropriate accommodations and, where appropriate, to the broader school population. This may include providing support services to you, and clarifying its response to sexual violence to the school community. To learn more, check out p.9 of this resource by the Department of Education.
What if I was assaulted by a non-student, such as a family member?
Even if the sexual harassment does not occur in the context of an education program,  Title IX recognizes that students often experience the continuing effects of off-campus sexual violence while at school. Therefore, your school should consider the impacts of off-campus violence on your education. Accommodations your school might provide you may include counseling, tutoring, or arranging time-off. To read more, check out p. 29 of this resource by OCR.

Apparently the "protection" offered by the glorious Title IX is some "accommodations" at schools (the site says: "like free counseling services or class changes") regardless of if an investigation happened. While schools undoubtedly should do whatever they reasonably can to make students comfortable and respect their needs, where this is leading has little to do with finding justice for sexual assault.

The conclusion one must arrive at after reading all of these resources is that if a victim cannot state a concrete accommodation that they desire then they should not bother telling anyone at all. Reporting what happened with clarity is basically thought of as a trap that may lead to undesired consequences.

In light of this, it's a mystery as to what specifically schools are to do beyond what they could reasonably be asked to do for any student - victim or not. Ideally a student could get course changes and free counseling services without having to revisit harrowing memories of sexual assault.

Title IX advocacy may or may not provide prevention of sexual assault insofar as its legalese manages to nudge the culture at schools. This is debatable. However it ultimately does not provide much at all to victims. To victims it's little more than an open mic night that promises a lot but does not pay.

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