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Sexual harassment in the college classroom design


Sexual harassment in the education sector. Education should safely shape the minds and attitudes of young adults and children, especially with the in loco parentis principle in mind.

Young adults who have experienced sexual harassment in the very environment that should have protected them as learners suffer greatly from social problems and from emotional and academic strain.

Victims often become future harassers themselves. Sexual harassment should be eradicated from the education sector in toto to ensure a safe learning environment. High incidences of harassment have been found among college students in America, while a very small percentage of such transgressions have been reported. Similar statistics in South African universities are not available, the problem is therefore managed in a void.

The position in schools is more alarming. In South Africa it has been found that 30 per cent of girls are raped at school and that male learners and educators are the main culprits. Not only is the magnitude of this problem gravely underestimated, but the effect of sexual harassment on learners has also not been managed properly. The Sexual harassment in the college classroom design argue that the focus is on avoiding legal responsibility and accountability, rather than on being proactive.

The historic invisibility of sexual harassment in education can be attributed to the wrongful silencing thereof. Sexual harassment; schools; workplace rights; educational rights. Sexual harassment in the education sector is a burning issue, both in South Africa and in foreign jurisdictions.

However, because of the lack of reliable statistics, this issue has had to be managed in the dark in South Africa.

Such statistics merely form part of the larger category of unfair dismissals. The history and sociology underlying sexual harassment have been disregarded to a great extent due to the emphasis that is being placed on avoiding liability. Sexual harassment in schools is a way of expressing and confirming masculinity within a heterosexualised racial and gender order.

Not only is an employer subject to strict liability if a case of sexual harassment occurs in the workplace or at learning institutions, but a plethora of claims can follow and has been known to follow the employer of the harasser. This Sexual harassment in the college classroom design especially to the education sector where the in loco parentis principle reigns supreme and where codes of conduct and policy need to be developed to protect both learners and educators.

A study done in America shows that nearly two thirds of all college students experience sexual harassment during their tuition and that female learners are predominantly the victims.

It has also been found that gendered performance intersects intimately with relations of power. The reinforcement of male heterosexuality and the authentication of male masculinity are often the cause of females becoming victims of the sexual harassment in an education environment.

A recent case involved a...

Tertiary institutions and schools are no longer the ivory towers of the past. They have become a breeding ground for unfair discrimination and victimisation on sexual grounds. Gender stereotyping is one of Sexual harassment in the college classroom design main reasons for the high number of sexual harassment cases reported in the education sector in South Africa and other jurisdictions.

Only if the socio-political, historical and cultural factors underlying this phenomenon are fully understood can sexual harassment ever be eliminated. As part of the expanding global village, "Sexual harassment in the college classroom design" Africa has a variety of cultures and races of which the education sector must take cognisance in order to fully eradicate all forms of sexual harassment in education.

According to Robinson 1empirical evidence from studies done in Australia over a ten-year period shows that the relationship between masculinity and sexual harassment in secondary schooling still stems from the perception that men, collectively, have power over women and that the very definitions of manhood maintain this notion. Sexual harassment seems to be integral to the performance of homogenised masculinity. The connection between sexism and harassment cannot be stressed enough.

Victims often ask themselves what they have done wrong, what part of the problem they own, what they have done to contribute to sexual harassment, what they have wrongly observed and to what they have silently given consent. It must be kept in mind that learning institutions are not only vehicles for teaching learners but remain a workplace for educators as well.

Whereas sexual harassment often begins in elementary school it often escalates in high school, both in frequency and type, as students progress through school to tertiary institutions.

This phenomenon has Sexual harassment in the college classroom design described as a "disturbingly prevalent trend. Sexual harassment at universities has been understood as the exercise of power by specific individuals, and it has been dealt with via insufficient policies and grievance procedures.

From an article written by Linda Eyre from the University of Brunswick, it is clear that this problem is far greater than the mere deviance by individual students. Catharine MacKinnon first brought the problem of sexual harassment on campus to the attention of the broader community. She described the harassment of students, especially female students, as a form of violence against women and coined the term "sexual harassment.

The same problem was experienced by all - the lack of a mechanism that would encourage victims to come forward and use the system. It is argued that the number of formal and informal complaints remains minuscule in comparison with the total number of incidents of sexual harassment, either in the workplace or in schools or universities. It is further stated that sexual harassment by university professors of their female students is a fact of campus life and that the silencing thereof is part of the reason for the historical invisibility of the problem: The most prevalent defence is that it is the students who harass the professors.

However, according to the writer of this book, students are capable of sexual hassle but not sexual harassment due to the absence of power on the side of the student. The fact that sexual hassle is in existence is not a reason for tolerating or ignoring sexual harassment.

Sexual give-and-take is based upon mutual consent, which is not possible in the student-teacher relationship because of the power imbalance and the magnitude of the role disparity.

It must be kept in mind that in sexual harassment the concern is about the unhealthy sexual dynamic, about behaviours that are exploitative, abusive and psychologically and academically damaging.

Human Rights Education in Asian...

In this new plight the role of professors has changed, allowing for closer contact with students to facilitate the required "relate to student" dichotomy. This autonomy offers sanctuary to professors and may cause hazard to students. Different people have different forms of power over subordinates in commercial and non-commercial organisations and are able to abuse that power within those limits. The supervisor has power over the subordinate as the teacher has over his learners and as professors have over their students.

This form of harassment of females in schools, especially secondary schools, has not received the attention it should and poses a real problem in several jurisdictions. This type of harassment seems to reverse the usual pattern.

It leads not only to women having to defend their claims of sexual harassment but also challenges women to question the phenomenon of sexual harassment in the traditional sense. It has been pointed out that abuse has traditionally been effected by men in power positions and that sexual harassment implies Sexual harassment in the college classroom design misuse of their position of trust.

The previous explanation of the social power differentiations between masculinity and femininity cannot come into play in this instance. It becomes evident when male students undermine classroom management in the traditional Western discourse of authority by relying on the construction that children are perceived as "innocent" and "naive" in relation to "adult" concepts such as sexuality, gender and power 17which proves not to be the case.

Australia's Sex Discrimination Act 18which underwent significant changes inacknowledges that students could sexually harass their teachers and provides for legal recourse if the perpetrating learner is 16 years of age or older. This provision does not exist in South African law and surely is a lacuna.

The so-called "gender regime" presents itself in schools and refers to the traditional perceptions of authority as being male dominant. Historically women in education were seen to be poor disciplinarians, lacking male attributes to control especially older children and more specifically boys.

Authority and discipline were predominantly defined in hegemonic masculine terms and confirmed by the sexual division of labour where men created policy, saw to discipline and were the decision makers. Robinson of the University of Australia, 20 gendered authority was present in non-traditional female subjects such as physics, computing, chemistry and others, which traditionally reflected a strong masculine bias. This presents a problem in modern society. The study showed that boys would challenge not only the authority of their female teachers but also question female educators' authority over and knowledge of their subjects.

They would ask male "Sexual harassment in the college classroom design" to assist them in these traditionally male environments, even outside the classroom. It is argued that in the Western world "masculinity comes to define valued experience" 21 and those that do not fit the profile as being male, white, heterosexual and middle class are seen to be lacking authority.

It is this perceived lack of authority that leads to female educators being harassed. The fact that male teachers often entered female classrooms unauthorised to manage what they perceived as a disciplinary problem occurring in the class further contributed to the undermining of female Sexual harassment in the college classroom design authority in the eyes of learners.

In the education sphere it is of the utmost importance that female educators be perceived to be able to maintain discipline as, according to this study, students believed that males were stronger, louder, had more control, were more intimidating than females and thus had greater authority.

Students clearly associated power and authority with dominant male attributes and powerlessness with femininity. It is from this premise that female teachers were regarded as easy targets for practical jokes and were less respected by students.

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