sexual assault in the classroom. A very common uncommon story.

I saw young man, he was there with his younger siblings, and he had recently graduated from high school. Every time I see him, I give him a big hug and ask him if he’s all right. He always says yes, but when I look at him I can see the hurt underneath the smile.

His grandmother called me because the school was were trying to keep him back he had He have more than 10 absences And a few Tardies but he was in A/B student But his behavior had also Changed he was usually upbeat and happy but now Moody and kept himself. 

I needed to find out what was happened Was he being bullied or Maybe he had a Trauma happen if it did  I could get him a 504 plan a lot of young people in our city Suffer from some level of Trauma From what his grandmother described I felt this was possibly what might be happening.

I met with him four times on the fourth time is when he finally opened up to me only on the condition that I wouldn’t tell anyone And even then he wouldn’t tell me any names.

But this is what he did tell me.

When he was in 10th grade, he had a teacher who is young, white, and pretty. She gave them books to read, and show interest in him not only as a student, but as a person. She told him he was brilliant, handsome, and special. Let me say for the record all of these things are true, but one day after school she kissed him. He like the attention and was attracted to her, so he kissed her back.

 But he also had a girlfriend and it made him feel uncomfortable, he didn’t know why, he just wasn’t comfortable that’s was his words were.

He appreciated all the help she had given him and didn’t want to ruin the close relationship they had, he was sure it was a mistake and he didn’t worry about it until later that month. They were alone again after school.  He says she kissed him again, and he kissed her back again, but afterwards he said “I really have to go.” He felt uncomfortable, but didn’t know how to express it.  She said, “No, you’re not gonna get me worked up like this and just leave. If you leave me like this I don’t know what I’m going to go outside and say.”

She asked him to do a few things, including oral and vagina sexual intercourse, he says that’s when I opened up and just told her the truth. “I’m a virgin, I don’t know what to do are how or how to do it” He He said it made him feel stupid young And  helpless, i did not  know how to do most of what she was asking me to, and the truth is, I didn’t want my first time to be in a classroom, or with her.

She said, “Come on, stop lying. I see you, you’re handsome, look at you your swag. I can tell you’ve been around the block.” She said it again, “I don’t know what I’m going to say if you leave me like this.”

What he heard was expulsion, possibly arrest, and possibly becoming a sex offender.  He felt the choice was Possibly ruining , his entire future. Or do what she said.

You see, he was at a zero tolerance school with a no excuses model. As a 6 foot one, 215 pound black boy. If she came out of that classroom and said that he had kissed her, touched her, even stepped up to her aggressively, he would be expelled and most likely arrested. Her word against his meant he was doomed. She had come all the way from up north and Ivy League school to help out children like him.

 After the assault  

His grade started dwindling, he started skipping school, then his grandmother called me to make sure he wasn’t kept back. She said, he was too smart to be kept back. 

It was a more then week of talking before he told me the story, as an advocate I wanted to go to school and addressed the administration. However, he kept saying she’s a good teacher to the kids, she’s her class of the test scores, it is my word against hers. She never sent texts, nude pictures, or emails, so he had nothing.  He said he wish he had have a good sense to sneak his cell phone and like so many other students do, record it.  Then he started making excuses for her; she’s young, not that much older than me. She’s like 23 or 24, she shouldn’t be in a class with a bunch of high school students.  She came from Teach for America, they don’t give them that much training.

I should not have kissed her, I should have not put on cologne to go to school, I smiled too much. All of these things sounded very familiar, I had heard them before in my head, from my friends, and even family members. He kept referring to it as “the situation.”

I said to him, you’ve been sexually assaulted. It’s OK to be angry, hurt, and feel it and it was not your fault.

This started out as a story about sexual abuse, molestation, and negligence in the school, but it got bigger.

So initially it was a story about teach for America, Youth inexperience, hormones, exoticism, and sexualization. The perfect recipe for Disaster .

 I had seen him and prior to that I had asked him if it was OK to share his story. He said yes but not his name, he is still scared of his teacher and that if it got out, she’ll just cry and flip it and everyone will believe her and not him

. He had seen it happen with his own eyes, many times, with many incidents in school.

So why this story why now why nowOne reason is I finally got permission to share the story the other is this is happened again and again and again and it has to stop.

 I tell a story and another advocate I was talking to tells me something similar happened to him. Then I talk to one of the young men who are used to do youth organizing the same question, he said “yeah that happens a lot. Sometimes the students want it, sometimes they don’t. Girls and boys, sometimes they do it to get a good grade so that they can graduate.” I’m like, “no wait, what? in high school?”  He said, “yeah what do you expect? They sent us a bunch of teachers, who are like 20 something. We go to the same bars, same clubs, and a lot of them literally think that all black dudes have big dicks, and how we are like these sex addicts or something. They think the same thing about the girls. Sometimes it’s true, sometimes it’s not, 20 something-year-old white people coming down to the south mix in with crazy black kids who had to grow up too quick, you have a recipe for disaster.”

According to the national center for victims of crime, for child sex abuse, 1 out of every 5 girls and 1 out of every 20 boys is a victim of child sex abuse. Also, according to article by Slate Magazine titled “when men are raped,” National crime victim survey of 40,000 households found 38% of sexual violence victims were men. How much does this impact toxic masculinity, anger issues, etc.? 

And even though I find no data to back it up, I know there are black men and boys are victims of sexual abuse in much higher rates, because they are victims of the prison industrial complex, in group homes, Juvenile jail’s facilities, and in adult prison. Sexual assault is high because we have the highest percentage of people and those institutions that it stand to reason that black men and boys are also sexually assaulted more often. But those are the obvious places to look, no one is looking in schools and classrooms across America.

So in this article, I’m bouncing around a lot, my question is where do black men and boys go when you’re sexually assaulted?

Which is more frequently then we have data but if we just pay attention to the data we know it’s a lot. Between incarceration rates and setting up disaster situations in which we know our children are going to be hurt, sexually assaulted, etc. because we’ve been through this before. With the reservation schools, whenever you send children from another culture to be educated by people who explicitly or implicitly have biased, see them as older, dangerous, and also sexualize them, you’re going to see more incidents of abuse. You add to that youth, no experience, and no training with schools that don’t allow young people to talk, explain their side of the story, or treated like human beings, you get more and more of this when there’s a power imbalance we must be more careful.

 But it seems as if we’ve gone down the yellow brick road in the wrong direction, we have hundreds of schools that require youth to shake their hand, requiring touch is backwards to say the least.  It doesn’t teach respect, it teaches dominance. You must touch me if I say so, and if you don’t you will be punished.

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