(no subject)

Cheryl McLaughlin (mclaughl@oberon.pps.pgh.pa.us)
Tue, 21 Jan 1997 17:28:41 -0500 (EST)

On Mon, 20 Jan 1997, Candace A. Isherwood wrote:

> I need some advice on a personal level. Last year I had my then 15
> yr. old daughter removed from a class when I felt a teacher was making
> inappropriate comments to her. She felt very uncomfortable in his class.
> This teacher is now up on charges of sexual harrassment for "alleged"
> comments to other girls. The school district is asking other girls to
> come forward, which some of them have. My daughter comes home every day

As the mother of a 20 yr old who filed a claiim with O.C.R. when harassed
by a housing official at her university (lost the claim) I surely do know
what you mean by being "put through the wringer." It IS awful -- I am so
sorry we put her through this (she was on the fence, but probably
wouldn't have filed the claim if we hadn't encouraged her to do so). Not
only did it create major problems for her, she suffered retaliation by a
group "posse" of 20 college males. It created problems within our
family, and made her an absolute nervous wreck.
That being said, I have to say that I still don't know what she/we would
do if confronted (God forbid) the exact same problem again today. Part
of me feels so strongly about facing and confronting s.h. and making a
strong statement that we're "mad as hell and not going to take anymore,"
-- another part of me says "run like the wind -- as far from the
situation as you can."
Dealing with O.C.R. was a nightmare -- our "mediator" was more obnoxious
than the "perpetrator" -- although his obnoxiousness didn't involve s.h.
-- he was just terribly insensitive, and I believe incompetent. OUr
legal fees were enormous, and we got nothing back, as O.C.R. ruled on
behalf of the Univ. (reason -- the Univ. DID ultimately dismiss the perp
from his duties as a paid employee -- but didn't suspend him from school
-- it took them a full college year to do this, and my daughter had to
continue to live in the same dorm with him in charge for that whole
year. But all O.C.R. cared about was that the univ. DID act -- they
didn't care that they DIDN'T act until we engaged an attorney).
The whole incident has created a major bad memory for her, she is
hesitant now to confront anyone about anything, and I am very bitter and
angry about how things were handled. I'd love to protect her forever
from the aftermath of s.h., not just from s.h. but this is the real world.

I think that in your daughter's case, you have the advantage of being
part of a larger group. As long as the others don't back down, then you
have some security in numbers. Given that the harassment involved
remarks (I am by no means saying that harassing remarks are ok, but I
think we can agree that remarks are of lower traumatic potential than
actions would be) -- I would say "go for it" -- take a stand, help your
daughter see herself as a powerful, empowered, person. Be there for her
when she needs to talk, surround her with other strong minded folks (this
was another disadvantage for my daughter -- she was 300 miles away from
home and friends, being brand new on campus, and she lacked that kind of
support, except for what she got via phone calls and e-mail from us and
friends). Let us know.

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