Steubenville teachers hear facts about sexual violence

STEUBENVILLE – City school officials held the latest in a series of informational education talks Wednesday afternoon with their teachers to provide a culture to prevent future tragedies.

Retired Cleveland area police Chief Dan Clark said his talk focused on the realities of sexual violence.

“I am also discussing how schools are reacting to sexual behavior in the classroom. Our children are exposed to more sexualized movies and shows than ever before. Children today are seeing so much more than we ever did and they are taking it all in. Their sexual behavior is being prompted by the media,” explained Clark.

“We have to do a better job talking to our young people about sex. Too often our children are learning from others that might not be the best sources. Children want this information, and they may get wrong information that will help them make mistakes,” said Clark.

“I’m here today to answer questions from the teachers. I am making my presentation but I also want to make sure people get the answers they are looking for,” added Clark.

His PowerPoint presentation included realities with children, and Clark cited statistics to show one in four girls will be sexually assaulted or an attempt made to sexually assault them prior to their 18th birthday. He also said one in six boys will be sexually assaulted or an attempt will be made to sexually assault them prior to their 18th birthday.

According to Clark, “about 50 percent of sexual assaults involve the use of alcohol. Men are more likely to misinterpret messages and they may use alcohol to justify or excuse unacceptable or even criminal behavior.”

Clark said sexual behaviors in pubescent children may include, “sexually explicit conversations with peers, obscenities, sexual innuendo in flirting and courtship and interest in erotica.”

“Inappropriate changes requiring a faculty or staff response include sexual preoccupation, pornographic interest, sexually aggressive themes and sexual graffiti, violating others’ body space, pulling skirts up or pants down and obscene gestures. Mandatory notification to outside authorities comes after obscene phone calls, voyeurism, sexual harassment or forced sexual contact,” explained Clark.

“At our first session we had a very good discussion and good questions from our parents of high school and middle school students. We talked about how to discuss the incident with our school children,” said Superintendent Mike McVey following a monthly board of education meeting Wednesday night.

The school board authorized a $5,000 agreement with the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center to provide two educational sessions for parents regarding sexual violence and how to communicate with their children.

According to the district’s action plan, the Wednesday afternoon in-service training for all staff, “is for some or all areas of sexual harassment, bullying, date rape, substance abuse and social media. The results are to educate the staff as to how to provide a culture to prevent future tragedies.”

Two Steubenville High School students were found delinquent earlier this month in Jefferson County Juvenile Court for the rape of a 16-year-old Weirton female last year.

McVey announced in January the school district was planning, “to expand our curriculum in our schools dealing with the events now under investigation. We are also planning to expand counseling for our students. And we will continue to provide more information and more services,” McVey said.

“The past few months have been very difficult for all of us in the Steubenville City Schools. Since the time we first heard allegations of a sexual assault involving some of our students, we began immediate dialog with the law enforcement authorities. Our hearts go out to the young victim. We sincerely hope she is getting the help she needs to heal from this ordeal,” according to McVey’s media statement released in January.

“As a school district our goal is to graduate students who are well educated, compassionate and caring who create greater understanding and good will within the community. The past few months have been very difficult, but as educators we know it is our responsibility to make sure all of us learn from this experience,” McVey noted in his January media statement.