The Harbinger: It Happens at Algonquin too (paper spotlights disturbing statistics on sexual assualt)

by beth on April 26, 2019

Post image for The Harbinger: It Happens at Algonquin too <em>(paper spotlights disturbing statistics on sexual assualt)</em>

Above: The Harbinger’s spring issue shines special attention on “#ithappensheretoo” – #metoo issues in their own school. (image from online posting of printed issue)

This week, Algonquin Principal Sara Walsh proudly told the Regional School Committee that the school paper recently printed its longest issue ever. Looking at it today, I agree that it’s impressive. The paper included a diverse range of topics including frivolous fun, political debates, and administration and student news.

But what struck me wasn’t the size of the issue. It was the dive it took into a serious issue.

the Harbinger March 2019 coverThe editorial board again highlighted a cover story topic through multiple articles including features and opinion pieces. This time the focus was on Algonquin students’ experiences with sexual assault, harassment, or unhealthy relationships.

Following up on anonymous results from a survey they conducted in February, the paper reports some disturbing statistics to support the thesis ” it happens here too”. (Or as elsewhere labeled – #ithappensheretoo).

According to the paper, the survey was completed by 236 students. The paper didn’t post the specific survey questions that were asked and full results, but articles cited that among the respondents they found:

15%  “have been sexually assaulted in some way”

22%  “have engaged in a sexual activity that they were uncomfortable with but did not verbalize”

4% “admit that they have sexually assualted someone else”

3% (7 students) responded that they were raped

an additional 3% (7 more students) reported “being unsure if they were raped”

Of the 60% of the respondents “who have been in a romantic relationships”

11% “report being physically threatened or intimidated by an intimate partner”

25% “feel they have endured psychological abuse”

Harbinger March 2019 opinionRevolving around the issue, the paper ran the following stories:

*It’s worth noting that a subsequent letter to the editor on the Harbinger’s website, indicates that a School Adjustment Counselor was apparently unhappy with possible connotations of her quote in the article “It happens here too”. Sarah McNulty followed up to clarify:

While it was not a misquote, it was taken out of the context of a much longer conversation, and I fear that I sound like someone who is sympathizing or perhaps making excuses for those who do not engage in the process of consent. To be crystal clear: You have to get consent. Always. Full stop.

I apologize for not saying exactly that in the first place.

You can read the spring issue, published last month, here.

If you’d like to get it in paper form and don’t have a student at Algonquin who can take the paper home for you (or you do, but you’d still like to support the Harbinger) you can sign up to get a subscription via snail mail. Click here for information on that. (You can also check out the easy to navigate website for free. But, while there is a lot of overlap, it doesn’t contain all the stories included in their print editions.)

1 Mom April 27, 2019 at 9:28 AM

Thank you to the Harbinger’s journalists for their excellence in writing on a topic that was once taboo. When I was in high school we would only whisper about sexual and psychological abuse. It’s a true step forward to live in a time where we speak openly about the complexities of social and sexual abuse.
As a person who firmly believes in total equality and as a mother of two males, I would like to add to the conversation by saying that boys cry too. Psychological abuse can be so very debilitating. So, along side teaching consent we should also be teaching that both parties have moral obligations in respect for the other person’s emotional wellbeing when entering into a romantic relationship.
Thank you again for your work on this topic.

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