Social media not the best outlet to report sexual misconduct

A guide to the proper steps to take if you experience sexual misconduct.

Hope Li

A guide to the proper steps to take if you experience sexual misconduct.

Kate Yang, Editor-in-Chief

If you have any questions, comments or concerns about the content of this article, we strongly encourage you to contact us at [email protected]. If you wish to report any cases of sexual misconduct, please talk to a trusted adult.

More than 60% of all sexual assaults — attacks or attempted attacks aimed toward unwanted sexual contact— are not reported to authorities, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics from 2002.

Instead, these incidents are reported to close friends, posted on social media or most times, kept to oneself. 

Assistant principal Hilda Arredondo wants to ensure that students know what to do if they ever become a victim of such misconduct.

“I think the fear of reporting it and not knowing who to report it to may contribute to students not knowing what to do,” said Arredondo, who investigates such reports and educates students about this issue. 

Aside from the public service posters plastered inside classrooms and offices on campus, students can find the protocols for how to report incidents of harassment and discrimination under the Safe Schools Policy located in the Sunny Hills Student Handbook, available in the school website. 

Though the protocol is also posted on the Fullerton Joint Union High School District website, Arredondo urges students who feel they may have been a victim to report cases of sexual assault, misconduct, harassment or abuse to any adult or school employee as soon as possible.  

“All staff members are mandated reporters and must inform an administrator after hearing of a student’s claim,” she said. “From there, I work with the [Fullerton police] school resource officer [SRO] to speak with the student and witnesses and then begin investigating and consult with my admin team and director at the district.”

Aside from gathering witness statements, Arredondo and the SRO work to establish the degree of the accusations before initiating any sort of investigation. 

“The SRO will sometimes determine that the assault was not a crime,” she said. “In these instances, my team and I take it into our own hands to give out a punishment or suspension based on the [state’s] education code.”

Furthermore, Arredondo asks that all students refrain from posting their accusations as well as naming those who allegedly have sexually hurt or harassed them on social media to prevent invasion of privacy, potential cyber bullying and interference with a subsequent investigation. 

“We, as an investigation team, have to listen to both sides of the story no matter what,” she said. “Posting information about what are supposed to be private cases on the internet is something we cannot afford because it may lead to bullying or misinformation.

Trusting school officials to handle the problem decreases the chance of that happening because they have received training about how to properly handle investigations.    

Sophomore Sierra Chavez, who has never had an encounter with sexual misconduct on or off campus, is confident about the protocols she would follow if anything inappropriate would happen to her.

“My parents and I speak very openly and honestly about this subject matter,” Chavez said. “Because of that, I’m confident that I would be able to easily overcome the situation with their guidance.” 

While she knows that building a comfortable relationship with parents can be something her peers find difficult, Chavez said she also suspects that her peers find it difficult to report alleged inappropriate behavior for fear of how others might view them. 

“I think many students don’t want to create drama or damage their reputation at school for falsely accusing someone,” she said. “I can see how some students would think of it as embarrassing to report. Others might just feel uncomfortable having to re-live it by speaking to someone about it.”

Principal Allen Whitten is aware of the peer pressure that some students face but still encourages all to speak to a trusted adult about the topic. 

“There is a lot to be proud of when speaking up,” Whitten said. “Our staff is very good at addressing these situations while supporting the students who speak up.”

It is also important for students to not shy away from using their voices when they see others experiencing any type of inappropriate behavior on or off campus, the principal said.

“Our goal is a harassment-free environment where students can enjoy learning and focus on school,” he said. “Sunny Hills will continue to do all we can to protect and support our students and address harassment [or assault] claims head-on.”