|Dear Stevenson Community:
Late Tuesday night we learned about a number of social media messages that were posted early this week by local area high school students who are survivors of sexual harassment and assault by peers at their schools and in some cases by students at other schools.
Several Stevenson students have posted messages (and reposted others’ messages) in these threads. As of today, no Stevenson students have to our knowledge been named as perpetrators. On Wednesday, we reached out to the Stevenson students who have written posts to check in, to offer our support, and to talk with their parents. And, as we are obligated to do by law when information like this becomes known to us, we also shared those social media messages with Monterey County’s Child Protective Services Unit.
In light of these developments, it is important to remember that sexual harassment and assault can happen to anyone, regardless of one’s gender, sexual orientation, physical strength, or strength of character. It is never the fault of the person to whom it happens. It often—too often—involves people who already know each other.
If you have experienced sexual harassment or assault, or have concerns about your own experience or a friend’s experience, we encourage you to seek support—from your family, from a member of the School Conduct Committee (composed of the head of the upper division, the associate head of the upper division, and the dean of students), your advisor or any other trusted Stevenson adult, or from a well-respected outside resource like the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline (1-800-656-4673), which is operated by RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. If you experience, see, hear, or feel something that seems wrong—something that makes you feel strange, ashamed, nervous, or threatened—please seek support. This advice applies even if the event in question happened long ago, and you did not think it was as significant then as you think it is now.
I also encourage everyone to review the “Community Values and Regulations” chapter of The Navigator, our student handbook, where you will find more information about support for students who experience sexual harassment and assault and how the School responds to such reports. You can also read more in this section about the School Conduct Committee’s role in such instances. If you have questions about what you read, please let me know.
In the coming days and weeks, it is the School’s firm expectation that you will be respectful of your peers’ right to privacy, and not participate in the kind of gossip or judging behavior that may create a climate in which people are less likely to feel safe coming forward with the information upon which our community’s health and safety depends. If you observe someone failing to honor this expectation, remind them of its importance. If their behavior persists, let me know.
Lastly, Stevenson takes seriously its responsibility to help educate students about sexual health and behavior, as well as sexual harassment and misconduct. Incidents like this one remind us that there is always more to do in this important area, and I give you my assurance that we will continue to build on the recent work we have undertaken in advisory, Community Forum, and Community Curriculum. As we do so, we will seek your ideas and perspectives. Please feel free to offer that feedback to me, your advisor, our school counselor Ms. Newhouse, or any other trusted adult in the Stevenson community.
Dean of Students