Keep school students safe

Published 1:18 pm Wednesday, August 7, 2019

By Brenda Wynn

Community Advocate

Inner Banks Hotline

Summer is almost over, and most of our children will be heading back to school or college as early as mid-August. They will be or are getting excited about new school clothes, new friends, old friends, going to a new grade level, possibly even being a

high school senior or college graduate. Some will just be hoping that it will be a better year than before, free from harassment.

Whoa, all so exciting only to find out that things did not change after all. Another year of fear!

One in 10 high school students have been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend with 94% being between the ages of 16-19 and 70% between ages 20-24. Violent behavior typically begins between the ages of 12 and 18.

It is unnerving and uncomfortable to talk about, but student-on-student sexual assault and harassment happens with alarming frequency in school bathrooms, on playgrounds, in school locker rooms and in the back of school buses. It happens on every level of education from Pre-K to college.

When it happens in schools and isn’t addressed, students come to believe that sexual misconduct is acceptable, even normal. “Our schools are in crisis!”

While occasions of adult-on-child sexual assault on school property are claiming headlines — and rightfully so — the problem of student-on-student sexual attacks are much more common. For every adult-on-child sexual assault, there were seven such assaults by students, according to an Associated Press (AP) analysis of federal crime data.

Gender-based harassment and sexual assault have driven an increasing number of adolescent students to suicide.

If you know of a student or adult who may be a victim of or experiencing sexual assault in school, the community or at home, feel free to contact a  member of the staff at Inner Banks Hotline on ways to help with domestic violence or sexual abuse.

Hotline staff: Janie Spencer, Executive Director;  Jennifer Holley, Client Advocate; Brenda Wynn, Community Advocate; Gloria Owens, Thrift Store Manager; and Avis Bryant, Faith/Hispanic Outreach Advocate.

Inner Banks Hotline offices and thrift store are at 507 US Hwy 64 East (beside Family Dollar) in Columbia; telephone 252-796-5526.

Thrift Store hours are Monday–Friday, 10am-5pm. Donations accepted in the back in the open carport.