Now front and center: California’s new school sexual harassment law

Posted in Sexual Harassment on September 1, 2016

“The prevalence of sexual harassment in society is extraordinary and we’ve done extraordinarily little to combat it.”

So says a principal with one victims’ advocacy group, who no doubt applauds recent steps to affirmatively address the troubling issue of sexual harassment in California’s public schools.

That problem is all too real, say many expert commentators on the subject. Moreover, and absent early training and educational efforts to deal with it, sexual harassment — in both schools and, of course, in society in general — looks to be enduring and seemingly implacable.

The recent strong focus on California’s public schools as venues for addressing sexual harassment and implementing educational initiatives that will hopefully help curb it is eminently logical, say many educators, psychologists and other parties who are closely involved with the problem.

The state’s K-12 schools are the “training ground” for select individuals who later commit assaults and other sex crimes on college campuses and in the community, says the executive director of one nonprofit group that crafts appropriate learning materials for young people.

Those materials stress the cultivation of attitudes — mostly in males — that promote gender respect and a curtailing of beliefs that overvalue male masculinity, aggressive and dominant behavior displayed toward females. Those behaviors are learned and honed early, and need to be checked before they are cemented going into adulthood.

California legislators and educators certainly endorse that view. The new K7-12 education law providing for harassment training was enacted as law on January 1 of this year.

And now it takes effect, commensurate with students’ return to the classroom this autumn semester.

Hopefully it yields over time the salutary effects that its many proponents are hoping for.