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Ed School Symposium Aims to Combat Sexual Violence in Schools

Harvard Graduate School of Education
The Harvard Graduate School of Education.
 

At the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s “Name It, Face It, End It” symposium, speakers and attendees discussed the issue of sexual violence in schools and strategies to prevent it.

The symposium, held on Friday, consisted of a day-long conference divided into two interactive workshop tracks, one for those working within the K-12 education system and one for those working in higher education.

After the conclusion of workshops, attendees reconvened for a keynote address from Jackson Katz, an educator, social theorist, and Ed School alum. Katz is the founder of the Mentors in Violence Prevention program, which provides sexual harassment and gender violence prevention training to organizations. 

Katz focused on the positive impact of prevention and education programs for not only young women, but also young men. He stressed that language and communication often perpetuate sexism and the acceptance of gender-based violence.

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“You’ll hear people say ‘How many women were sexually assaulted on college campuses last year?’ rather than ‘How many men sexually assaulted women on college campuses last year?’” Katz said. “Or, you’ll hear, ‘How many teenage girls got pregnant last year?’ rather than, ‘How many men impregnated teenage girls last year?’”

This is the second symposium on the issue of sexual violence in schools that Justine Finn and Rachel Hanebutt, both of whom graduated from the Ed School in 2016, have organized. They cited a dearth of discussion around sexual violence in schools for pre-professionals entering the education field as the impetus for the conference.

“When we were at [the Ed School], there seemed to be a lack of courses and events that prioritized talking about sexual harassment and gender-based violence in schools,” Hanebutt said. “There were very few resources for educators to facilitate and learn how to prevent these types of violences.”

With the current wave of anti-sexual assault activism, the organizers found they had a large amount of interest in the symposium. Regardless of political moment, however, Finn said their efforts to combat sexual violence in schools will continue.

“As the news changes and comes and goes, we are still going to be doing this work,” Finn said. “If the #MeToo movement is just a moment, we are still going to be in the trenches. Where we are happy to be.”

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