By Abdallah Zbir
By Abdallah Zbir
Morocco World News
Chicago, October 31, 2012
A definition of sexual harassment may differ linguistically and culturally from one setting to another. However, most of the definitions would direct us to an unwelcome sexual advance and an unnecessary physical contact that may create unpleasant climate for its victims. In schools, the challenge is greater and so is the impact. A non-safe climate for our students can paralyze their vitality and enthusiasm to learn and progress in their personal growth.
Our legislative regulations should identify sexual harassment and create a procedural criterion to address its occurrences. Policies should be modified to ensure the creation and maintenance of good conduct in our educational setting. Sexual harassment is a severe act that may cause serious damage and harm to individuals and may deny them an effective access to learning and impair their ability to succeed and advance in their life.
In today’s time, a simple hug meant to show support or affection may be misinterpreted. Educators and students are at risk and should be cautious and aware of all the possible consequences of their acts. In the chapter of “Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Policies and Tips for Interacting with Students” in Al-Hadi School Student-Parent Handbook of 2010/2011, the School Board of Educators explains the policies and procedures that express the school’s concern of sexual harassment. The board uses the term sexual abuse and defines it as any contact or interaction between a child and an adult in which the child is being used for sexual stimulation of the adult or another person.
Al-Hadi School of Accelerative Learning in Houston, Texas where I spent almost four years has been trying to modify its administrative regulations to respond to this increasing concern and so should our schools, in Morocco, do. Our classrooms should be built and designed to allow proper observation. Screening programs for administrators and teachers should be practiced and rules such as Zero Tolerance, Two Adult Rule should be encouraged in our schools so the hallways are paths of learning and the classrooms are homes of wisdom and not corners where abusive teachers can harm innocent children and cues them an ever-lasting wound.
The development of students is not limited to academic measurement and criteria. Their progress and success also relate to areas of behavioral problems and corrective processes. Every member of our schooling system should understand and realize the critical and controversial nature of sexual harassment and child abuse. Regulating policies should serve to a maximal advantage as a guideline for all teachers, administrators and students to help safeguard students and provide all correction measures needed to comply with safety commitment and to ensure that any inappropriate verbal, written or physical act of sexual nature would be addressed with a high sense of responsibility and transparency.
Schools may use regulatory systems that address all possible infractions that may fall in child sexual abuse category and list all possible consequences that may also vary in terms of severity and seriousness from oral/written warnings to the termination of employment or expulsions for students. In certain cases, the consequences may go beyond this and the final words can be told loud in courts.
To conclude, sexual harassment is very critical to the whole teaching/learning process. Our efforts as educators rely mainly on how we can address its complexity and seriousness. Sexual harassment identification and disciplinary measurement should be addressed at different levels and more substantially, our policies should be sensitive to all possible social, cultural, religious and ethical implications in determining the right procedural corrective systems.
Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Policies and Tips for Interacting with Students. Pages 29, 30 Al-hadi School of accelerative Learning Student-Parent Handbook.