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Local Spotlight: Reporting Sexual Assault At High Schools

Though much of the national conversation has focused on colleges, sexual assaults are happening at K-12 schools, and students often don't get the support they need when they speak up.
Though much of the national conversation has focused on colleges, sexual assaults are happening at K-12 schools, and students often don't get the support they need when they speak up.

In North Carolina, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ responses to students reporting on-campus sexual assault are the focus of a recent investigation by WBTV’s Nick Ochsner.

In one case, a student at Hawthorne Academy High School says she was told her story had no merit. Then, an administrator gave her a non-disclosure agreement to sign, making her promise not to speak to anyone about what happened until after her graduation.

In another case at the same high school, a student was suspended after reporting being sexually assaulted because the school determined she made a false report. This happened even as the police decided to charge the alleged perpetrator with sexual battery.

Nationwide, other K-12 school systems are also under scrutiny.

From The Lily’s Anne Branigan:

In September, students at six high schools in Northern California walked out to protest the handling of at least two recent sexual assault complaints. This month, high school students in Kansas City, Mo., and the San Francisco Bay area also held protests.

“We need them to take these issues more seriously than they do,” Crawford Patten, a high school student who participated in the Oakland, Calif., protests, told ABC News.

Just like students at colleges and universities, K-12 students who attend publicly funded schools are entitled to Title IX protections, which bar gender discrimination at those institutions. Title IX also outlines protocols for reporting sexual violence, and it requires schools to support survivors so they can continue their education as their cases are being investigated.

We talk through the story with Ochsner and a legal expert and hear from a former student and survivor.

We speak frankly about the subject of sexual assault during this conversation. If you’re a survivor of sexual assault and are seeking support, you can reach out to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, at 1-800-656-4673. You can call the hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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