Program educates local teens
Jillian Barwick | Thursday, January 19, 2012
Saint Mary’s senior Cat Cleary and junior Laura Corrigan teamed up this semester to work with high school students in South Bend through a program called “Use Your Voice.” They created the program, directed toward teens, to raise awareness about sexual harassment in schools, as well as to improve prevention methods and responsiveness to the issue.
After receiving the 2011-2012 Campus Action Project grant from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Cleary and Corrigan said they used the funds to implement “Use Your Voice” at four high schools in the South Bend Community School Corporation through 60-minute afterschool workshops.
“Our goals for this program and this semester are to start a conversation at each of these schools about sexual harassment because dialogue is a great step in the right direction,” Cleary said. “We also know this is a complex issue that needs a coordinated community response, so our goal is for students, teachers, parents and other high school staff to gain knowledge from this.”
Cleary said last summer the AAUW polled 1,965 students from grades 7 to 12 about their thoughts and experiences with sexual harassment. According to the survey, 30 percent witnessed online sexual harassment and 44 percent experienced sexual harassment in person.
“We know this is a complex issue that needs a coordinated community response, so our goal is for students, teachers, parents and other high school staff to gain knowledge from this,” Cleary said.
Cleary and Corrigan said they learned about the Campus Action Project grant through the National Student Advisory Council. They received the grant from AAUW based on a research report they released in November about harassment in schools, specifically grades 7 through 12.
Cleary was also appointed as a representative of women at universities across the United States last year, while Corrigan is one of 10 women on the National Student Advisory Council this year.
Cleary and Corrigan said they want “Use Your Voice” to raise awareness about sexual harassment and make schools a safer place.
“We really want teens to know that they have a safe place to report sexual harassment issues to,” Corrigan said. “Sexual harassment in schools is a preventable issue that students should not have to simply live with.”