Sexual Harassment Panel To Be Held

The 2011 findings of a sexual harassment research report, as conducted by the American Association of University Women, will be presented in panel discussion at Jefferson Middle School on Thursday evening.

The research findings indicated that 48 percent of students surveyed experienced some form of sexual harassment during the 2010-11 school year. The event, called “Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment in the Schools,” will be held in the school’s auditorium at 7 p.m.

Discussing the information will be several members of the community, who will provide insight into how sexual harassment is handled within their respective professions.

The panel will include: Karen Briner Peterson, director of human resources at Jamestown Public Schools; Thom Wright, school counselor at Jefferson; Alycia Johnson, of the Chautauqua County Mental Health Department; and Timothy Hollern, Chautauqua County deputy sheriff. The panel will be moderated by Carm Proctor, principal of Jefferson.

According to Proctor, who is also an AAUW member, the discussion is intended to provide audience members with the findings themselves, as well as the way sexual harassment appears and is dealt with in the real world.

“It’s exciting for me only because this is a topic that’s always at the forefront in terms of harassment,” Proctor said. “And we have an organization out there who’s willing to support us in talking about the topic and provide preventative measures.”

Proctor said emphasis will be placed on rising instances of “cyber-sexual harassment” via social networking and texting, as well as strategies to prevent harassment within the schools. She prefaced that the discussion will strictly be in reference to student-to-student harassment.

The event is expected to last approximately an hour, with the panel discussion following a brief presentation and concluding with a question-and-answer session.

“We’re just going to be touching the tip of the iceberg,” Proctor said. “None of the panel (members) are experts in sexual harassment, they deal with it on a reality basis and in different aspects of their own professions.”

The 2011 AAUW Research report presents the most comprehensive research to date on sexual harassment in grades seven through 12, and reveals some sobering statistics about its prevalence and the negative impact it has on student education.

The AAUW advances education and equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, research and philanthropy. A reduced-priced membership of $45.50 will be available at the event for anyone who has a two-year degree or higher. Cash or checks will be accepted.

For more information about AAUW, go to www.aauw.org or jamestown-ny.aauw.net.