STUDENT-TO STUDENT HARASSMENT #
This document is designed to serve as a policy and teaching tool for the students in Archdiocesan schools. It serves as a tangible witness to the Catholic commitment to live, love, and respect as Jesus did.
As indicated below, student-to-student harassment can take many forms. To the extent it involves child abuse, as defined by law, the Archdiocesan Child Abuse Policy and Procedures, including the requirement to report the abuse to civil authorities, shall be followed.
HARASSMENT IN GENERAL #
Catholic teaching and practice affirm the Christian dignity of every person. Harassment is unacceptable conduct that is severe, pervasive, and deliberate. Harassment occurs when an individual is subjected to treatment in a school environment which is hostile, offensive, or intimidating because of the individual’s race, religion, creed, color, age, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, or sex. Harassment of a student by any other student is prohibited and will not be tolerated. It is the policy of the Archdiocese to provide an educational environment in which all students are treated with respect and dignity.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT #
Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can be directed toward a student under conditions such as the following:
|Sexually demeaning comments, sexual statements, questions, slurs, jokes, anecdotes, or epithets.
|Suggestive or obscene letters, notes, or invitations.
|Unkind, immoral and/or unlawful physical touching, contact,
assault, deliberate impeding or blocking movements, or any intimidating interference with normal study or movement.
|Leering, gesture, display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures, cartoons, or posters.
DISCIPLINARY ACTION #
- This policy prohibits student-to-student harassment whenever it is related to school activity or attendance, and occurs at any time including, but not limited to, any of the following:
- While on school grounds;
- While going to or coming from school;
- During the lunch period whether on or off campus;
- During, or while going to, or coming from, a school-sponsored activity.
- Any student who engages in the harassment of another student is subject to disciplinary action up to and including verbal and/or written warnings and reprimands, counseling, suspension, and expulsion.
Note: Should substantiated conduct outside the school environment come to the attention of the school, this too many serve as grounds for discipline, as students of Archdiocesan schools are expected to conform their lives to Christian principles at all times.
STUDENT’S RESPONSIBILITY #
It is the student’s responsibility to conduct himself or herself in a manner which contributes to a positive school environment. Students will not commit acts which tend to injure, degrade, disgrace, or threaten the safety, privacy, and respect of other students, teachers, or staff members.
ADMINISTRATION’S RESPONSIBILITY #
To promote an environment free of harassment, the Principal shall take appropriate actions such as removing vulgar or offending graffiti, establishing site rules, and providing staff in-service or student instruction and counseling. Teachers shall discuss this policy with their students in age-appropriate ways and shall assure them that they need not endure any form of harassment. The school will treat allegations of harassment seriously and will review and investigate such allegations of harassment in a prompt, professional, and thorough manner.
STUDENT HARASSMENT ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES #
DISSEMINATION OF POLICY #
In order to ensure that all students and employees have knowledge of this policy and administrative procedures, a copy of the policy:
- will be posted in a prominent location in the administrative building on each campus;
- shall be provided to all faculty members, administrative staff, and support staff at the beginning of each school year or at the time that a new employee is hired; and
- a summary of the policy shall appear in the parent and student handbooks at each local site.
COMPLAINT PROCEDURE #
- Students who feel aggrieved because of conduct that may constitute harassment may, depending on the severity of the conduct, directly inform the person engaging in such conduct that such conduct is offensive and must stop. In many
circumstances, it may be better to directly contact an adult, such as those listed below.
- If students do not feel comfortable doing this or are unable to do so, they shall direct their verbal complaint to their parents or to a school counselor, principal, or assistant principal. If a claim of sexual harassment is involved and students are uncomfortable speaking to administrators who are of the opposite sex, then they may request that a same-sex teacher also be present. These persons have been designated to assist in resolving harassment complaints and are bound by the highest degree of sensitivity, concern, and professionalism.
- The designee receiving the complaint will follow the school’s disciplinary plan and will act in a prompt and timely manner to ensure that the matter is investigated and responded to in accordance with legal and Archdiocesan requirements. Any investigation will be conducted in as confidential a manner as is consistent with these requirements and a thorough investigation of the complaint.
GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR PRINCIPALS, TEACHERS AND COUNSELORS DESIGNATED TO INVESTIGATE STUDENT HARASSMENT COMPLAINTS #
FIRST RESPONSE #
- Take the report seriously.
- Be sensitive and set the tone.
- Gather facts.
GENERAL INVESTIGATION GUIDELINES #
- Determine who should conduct the investigation.
- Create a general investigation plan.
- Conduct a thorough investigation immediately (within 24 hours, if possible).
- Exercise confidentiality to an extent consistent with legal and Archdiocesan requirements.
- Document the results.
- Select appropriate locations for interviews.
- If complaint is for sexual harassment, ensure that a person of the same gender as the person being interviewed be present to conduct the interview (unless the student requests otherwise).
INTERVIEWING COMPLAINANT #
- Predetermine initial questions (what, who, when, where, to whom, witnesses, any touching, etc.).
- Be non-judgmental – do not ask leading questions (i.e., questions that suggest the desired “answers”).
- Clarify context of the events.
- Seek effect on complainant (psychological, emotional, financial, etc.).
- Seek information about others subjected to same or similar treatment.
- Probe timing of complaint.
- Find out what the complainant (and/or parents) wants.
- Explain that there will be no retaliation.
- Provide copies of appropriate Archdiocesan policies.
- As appropriate, ask the complainant (or depending on the circumstances, a parent) to prepare a formal, written complaint (be ready if the complainant does not want to make a formal complaint).
INTERVIEWING ALLEGED HARASSER #
- Explain purpose of interview and outline accusations. Be objective – do not ask leading questions.
- Observe reaction.
- Expect denial and probe further.
- Identify relationship between complainant and alleged harasser.
- Explore prior “consensual” relationships.
- Discover authority of alleged harasser over complainant.
- Provide copies of appropriate Archdiocesan policies.
- Emphasize rules about communicating with complainant and remind the alleged harasser that no retaliation will be tolerated.
- Interview alleged harasser even if complainant’s allegations appear true or are corroborated.
- Take immediate disciplinary action, if warranted.
INTERVIEWING WITNESSES #
- Use open-ended questions to get information.
- Do not provide information from other sources.
- Explain confidentiality of interview.
- Do not reveal biases.
RESOLVING THE COMPLAINTS #
- Balance the facts known.
- Be prepared to respond, even if you cannot determine whether harassment occurred.
- Impose a disciplinary response, if warranted.
- In consultation with the Superintendent of Schools, inform complainant and alleged harasser (and/or their parents) of results of investigation.
- Take steps to resolve the situation and provide appropriate referrals for counseling where deemed necessary.
- Create final report and transmit to appropriate superior.