After the recent events involving two former Harker teachers’ inappropriate interactions with students and their subsequent arresting, we’ve seen, among other warranted responses, some knee-jerk reactions to the news.
The news is absolutely important, and as the national situation with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his alleged sexual misconduct in high school unfold, our community and the country should rightfully be more than ever focused on and aware of these problems in high school.
However, while being angry because of the actions of trusted adults in our community is appropriate, it is also essential to have a healthy balance of emotion and reason. To do this we must look at the facts, and as the school’s journalistic community it is our role to supply you with these facts and to maintain our credibility.
Much of this anger and hatred has been directed at the Harker administration unfairly. Simply put, the school administration is not to blame for hiring the new teacher. Harker includes a thorough background check as part of the hiring process of a prospective teacher, and there was no way of knowing his past as the charges were filed after he was already hired.
Though the second incident happened quite soon after the first, we must remember as a community that these events do not represent the plurality of school time and should not be treated as such. These events, though they absolutely merit attention and change, are extremely rare. We must not allow our immediate panic and anger caused by the closeness of the events to cause us to forget the weeks, months, and years we have spent with adults around us.
That being said, to be unphased by the events and the school community’s reactions to them is naive. Instead of expressing this anger in unproductive ways, we must influence change both in a broader cultural sense, but more specifically and less commonly talked about here at school.
Undoubtedly, these incidents will have a lasting negative impact on trust and the perception of our safety at school. While our administrators continue to console and work on guaranteeing our safety, we, students and teachers alike, must also do our part in ensuring that we all feel safe. This serves as the perfect outlet to which we can focus ourselves.
In an effort to ensure that all members of the Harker community feel safe, we propose the following:
An elected committee of students such as student council should be given an opportunity to talk with prospective teachers and have a say in the hiring process.
Teachers should draw clear lines in each of their classes when it comes to the how and when of appropriate communication between them and their students.
For the general student body, every few months, we should have a student discussion event or forum in an effort to create a comfortable space where we can voice our concerns and thoughts to our peers.
A few advisory meetings throughout the year should be dedicated to the topic of how each student feels about their safety.
These steps or any steps our community chooses to take would be just the beginning of the important process of rebuilding trust and faith in our Harker community.