How Safe School Ambassadors Can Reduce Sexual Harassment On Campus

March 8 2018

Author

  • Dr. Glenn Lipson, Clinical and Forensic Psychologist
    Dr. Glenn Lipson
    Clinical and Forensic Psychologist

We are living in a time where sexting, revenge porn, date rape, hazing and other forms of sexual abuse and harassment are happening too frequently in our schools. The concept that girls or boys need to be pursued and manipulated if one wants to be touched underlies a great deal of sexual harassment. The difficulty of relating to others that are different anatomically, racially, and/or in terms of gender identity causes some to use intimidation to mask their awkwardness, fear and confusion. Putting others down to make oneself feel ‘OK’ may serve to deflect one’s pain, but at the price of losing our connection and common ground.

When young people learn to form relationships exclusively from conquest, intimidation and exploiting others, these patterns become ingrained. It starts early in school. Harassment and other means of manipulation replace conversation in an adversarial world that is based on shame, momentary gratification, and put downs. This has led to suicide becoming the second cause of death in some of our younger age groups. Compassion instead enhances life and the quality of one’s relationships. This important ingredient in life’s recipe sustains happiness, and makes victories and success meaningful.

In late 2017, awareness of the prevalence of sexual harassment, and specifically the role of power dynamics between perpetrators and victims, increased nationally as a result of the #MeToo movement and the scandals that rocked Hollywood and national politics. This awareness is recognized in California and recently codified in additions to the required sexual harassment training mandated for managers to now include bullying. In the State of New Jersey, the bullying prevention statute for the protection of children is referred to as the HIB law. The letters in HIB, stand for Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying. The law thus recognizes these three elements often occur together. As an expert to the courts and schools, I firmly believe that Community Matters, through the Safe School Ambassadors Program, facilitates the types of connections and conflict resolution that result in relationships based on compassion, while encouraging preventative actions to occur when mistreatment is witnessed. Such early interventions do much to prevent further harm. 

School culture begins to change when Ambassadors practice their skills to help facilitate understanding, instead of remaining apprehensive and silent in response to mistreatment. A subtle lesson is being learned, and modeled to fellow students - that happiness is found in both caring and through the fostering of understanding relationships with each other. These approaches work because they are more successful than domination, intimidation and control in meeting basic needs. The mantra of Community Matters, that each one can teach one, moves us closer to having a safer, more just and all around better society.


Dr. Glenn Lipson is a full Professor and Program Director at Alliant International University’s California School of Forensic Studies. His specialties include all forms of employee/employer concerns including risk management and fitness for duty evaluations. For decades he has been doing presentations both nationally and internationally, including New Scotland Yard, England and the Ontario College of Teachers, Canada. Learn more at www.glennslipsonphd.com



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