It’s Not Okay That A High School Neglected To Tell Parents A Student Was Allegedly Raped On Campus
The words don’t exist to describe how furious I would be if I were a parent whose kid goes to Bellaire High School, who hadn’t been informed that a girl was allegedly gang raped in one of the bathrooms there until a month after it happened. For future reference, schools, this is exactly the kind of thing that I, as the mother of a daughter, would like to know about. ASAP.
On October 14th, a fourteen-year-old female student at the Texas school reported that she had been sexually assaulted by nine…NINE…male students in a boys’ bathroom on the first floor of the science wing. Investigators have obtained video of the incident, which some of the boys reportedly recorded on their cell phones.
Pardon me for a moment while I go cry, scream, and break things.
Okay, I’m back.
A story onÂ My Fox HoustonÂ says that according to a source, “…several of the male students…claim the encounter was consensual. The young victim denies that claim.” Right. Because rape.
The rest of the school community was not informed of the incident until last night, via a recorded message.Â Swati Narayan, the president of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization, understands why the rest of the school was not notified. She is quoted inÂ The Houston ChronicleÂ as saying:
“As soon as the girl said something, the appropriate people were notified,” Narayan said on Wednesday. “The reason that [notification to all parents] hasn’t happened is because there is still an investigation happening. If [school officials] felt other were students at risk, they would have done it.”
She said the parents and students she had spoken to weren’t overly concerned by the report.
“They feel bad students were in a situation like this, that has to be investigated,” she said. “But nobody I have spoken to is worried about their own safety at school.”
I feel like that should seem completely rational to me, but saying that people aren’t “overly concerned” about an alleged rape makes me want to go break more things.
And this is the statement that was released by the Houston Independent School District:
HISD Police and school administrators are currently investigating a report of sexual assault at Bellaire High School. The incident was reported on Oct. 14. School officials immediately notified HISD Police, and an investigation was launched. We are unable to comment further because of the ongoing criminal investigation. However, rest assured that we take these situations very seriously and are thoroughly reviewing all allegations to determine what, if any, action should result. Students with information should contact school officials or HISD Police.
I’m pretty sure they could have told parents that on October 16th or 17th and it would have been a-okay. Again, as a parent,Â and in particular the parent of a girl, this is something I need to know.Â Not for gossip, or head-shaking, or witch hunts, but because if a student at my kids’ school claims that they were raped by fellow students on school property, there is a safety issue. Period.
First of all, no one has said what happened to the students involved after the incident. Are any of them still attending classes? Were any of them suspended? That kind of information is important for other parents to have. If these boys had been hanging out with my kids during the past month, I would not be the least bit okay with it. These are boys that are under investigation for a rape that the police have on video. Keep them the fuck away from my kids.
Second, there is a huge, huge culture issue here. If there has been rape committed by students on campus, then you need to look at what the school culture surrounding sexual violence was before the rape and make a plan for what it is going to be after the rape. Is this a school where female students have been feeling unsafe for a while? Are sexual taunting and harassment commonplace and accepted? Or was this incident an aberration? Someone should be looking into why these boys felt they could do this at school.
And how this school responds to the assault is going to speak loads about how it views sexual assault and how important the safety of their students is to them. Sending out a recorded message a month later does not work for me at all. And this sentence from the school district’s release, “However, rest assured that we take these situations very seriously and are thoroughly reviewing all allegations to determine what, if any, action should result.” What, if any? If any?Â Wrong. Action should be taken regardless of what investigators find because now this issue has touched these students lives in a very real way and has to be addressed. It undoubtedly wasn’t their intention, but adding in that “if any” negates the part of the sentence where they said it was serious, and makes it sound like there is a possibility that nothing will be done here. That can’t be a possibility. I’m not saying that someone has to be charged with something if that somehow turns out not to be warranted, but it should be made clear to students and their parents that something is going to happen because of this; that it is not going to be swept under the rug and walked away from.
This isn’t someone getting their backpack stolen, this is rape.
As a parent, I would hope that my kids’ school would notify me of something like this as soon as possible, would put a plan in place for how they were going to reassure students of their safety, and would make a statement about the school’s position on sexual assault. Because if I was one of those girls who has been walking around their school for the past month, not knowing about a rape that allegedly occurred there, I would feel betrayed by the adults who were supposed to protect me.