14-Year-Old Girl Raped in Bathroom After Being Used as Bait
byAlex DiBranco October 19, 2010
I'm feeling some kind of déjà vu here: haven't I used a headline like this before? Oh right: "Teen Raped After Being Used by School as 'Bait.'" Nope, it's not the same teenager. It's not the same school. But is it the same act of idiocy and disregard for the well-being of female students? Yep, there's that.
In the previous case, a student at Upper St. Claire High School reported that she and another girl were raped by a boy at the school. According to her lawsuit against the school, the principal got it into his head that consensual sex was occurring on school grounds and wanted to catch the frisky students in the act, so he kept the girls at school as bait with policemen following them. The police lost track of the gals and decided they must have gone home. Two girls reported that, actually, they were raped in the stairwell. Again.
Now, according to another "bait" lawsuit (pdf) filed at the end of September, Hill v. Madison County School Bd., teachers and administrators knew that one of their students had been sexually harassing and propositioning girls at Sparkman Middle School in Alabama. However, no action had been taken against him by the school. So one teacher decided on the same tactic as Upper St. Claire's principal: girl-as-bait. The teacher coerced 14-year-old B.H.J., an African-American student who had reported being repeatedly sexually harassed, into meeting her tormentor in a bathroom, assuring her that they would "catch him." But nobody followed B.H.J. into the bathroom, and nobody stopped her from being raped; the teacher simply went back to her classroom and waited. B.H.J. is reported as being severely traumatized and in an almost completely non-communicative state.
The lawsuit states that this incident was part of a systemic failure "to supervise, discipline, suspend and expel students who pose a real and immediate danger to their fellow students." Even if the teacher's intention was to "catch" a student making inappropriate sexual advances, to put an unwilling 14-year-old in danger by using her as bait, and then through negligence allow that girl to be raped, demonstrates a disregard for student welfare that is unacceptable in a teacher.
Tell the Madison County School Board it needs to take immediate action to respond to the situation and make certain such incidents do not occur in the future. This means removing the teacher from her position, expelling the student rapist, and implementing policy guidelines on how schools are expected to deal with students who are sexually harassing their peers.
In the past week, we've covered four stories, with four associated actions, regarding sexual assault on high school or college campuses, asking for school administrators to respond by taking real action. There was Yale's pro-rape fraternity chant, 11 Central Washington University students roofied at an off-campus party, a Silsbee High School cheerleaderkicked off the squad for refusing to cheer for her rapist by name, and now this rape-as-bait case (which is disturbingly similar to Upper St. Claire's rape-as-bait case). This points to a problematic pattern in how schools address and prevent the sexual assault of their students.School administrators need to start taking strong action against rape to make their campuses safe for girls.
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