A Sexual Harassment Prevention Program
About The Program
The program “Taking A Stand – Big Time” targets pupils in the fifth and sixth grades. The beginning of adolescence in these grades is accompanied by physical, social, and emotional changes. These changes often impinge on an adolescent’s self-confidence and self-esteem. They can also bring about feelings of confusion and misunderstanding regarding sexually inappropriate and harassing behaviours, how to define boundaries of appropriate behaviour and how to recognise when these boundaries are crossed. Especially among adolescents, sexual harassing behaviour has been shown to result in eating disruptions, low self-esteem, and withdrawal from social interactions.
The “Taking A Stand – Big Time” program begins by organising a series of thematic discussions with the school staff and parents. These lectures help participants to identify different forms of sexual harassment and possible prevention measures. During these discussions, teachers, principals and parents frequently bring up concrete instances of problematic behaviours, for which they often feel incapable of responding.
In the next stage, specially trained facilitators begin implementing the carefully structured eight-week program. During each two-hour weekly meeting, facilitators use stories, plays, discussions, short films, and other activities to introduce pupils to the concepts of respect, equality, and bullying and force, which they see as linked to sexual harassment. They learn about the obligation of reporting harassing behaviours, the legal basis for preventing sexual harassment and the illegality of specific behaviours. The “Taking A Stand – Big Time” program takes up a range of inter-related themes, for example, ostracism of students by their peers, intentional bullying, and sexual harassment within an intimate relationship. The pupils also learn about smart and safe usage of the internet and building a program for personal safety. The program accompanied by an original rap-style song that illustrate causes of sexually harassing behaviour. An important dimension of the program is the gender perspective: facilitators use different mass media to help students grapple with a range of gender related issues and sexual stereotypes and what it means to create a respectful, safe and non-judgmental environment. Students also discuss ways of changing existing social norms, for example, by writing letters to well-known companies about how their products and advertising promote gender inequality.
Like other association programs, the “Taking A Stand – Big Time” program has been approved by the Israeli Ministry of Education and it contributes values to the daily cultural dialogue of pupils. The program uses cultural dialogue and discussions to address important values and to improve the pupils’ sense of personal security. The program provides school staff and children with immediate knowledge about, and courses of action for coping with, the phenomenon of sexual harassment and its prevention. As such it empowers both teachers and students and fosters a classroom environment of mutual respect and tolerance.
This program is available as an online course.