Editorial: How to recognize and respond to sexual harassment and assault


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Trust yourself. If you feel you have been sexually assaulted or harassed, tell a trusted adult or report to Safe2Tell or the police.

Prospector Staff

Recent events involving two former Manitou Springs High School teachers being arrested for sexual assault have caused conversation involving the trust students hold towards their teachers. 

56% of girls and 40% of boys have experienced some form of sexual harassment during their youth, according to Nvrc.org.

When in a school environment, students put a certain level of trust within their teachers and adults of a higher position. 

While all of these significant things are going on with more prominent public figures, it’s essential to recognize that these issues can happen to anybody. In 2017 the Civil Rights Data Collection determined that 14,938 incidents of sexual violence were reported during that school year. Which is a 55% increase compared to the previous year. 

It is important to determine specifically what sexual assault or harassment is, not to only help people know if it is happening to them, but also to stop false claims from being made. Sexual assault is when someone does something sexual that makes you uncomfortable or any physical touching to someone’s body that is unwanted. Sexual harassment is a behavior characterized by the making of unwelcome and inappropriate sexual remarks or physical advances in a workplace or other professional or social situation.

So what should you do if you feel you are experiencing sexual assault or harassment? First, always trust your gut. If it feels bad, it probably was bad. Anna Conrad, the assistant principal of Manitou Springs High School, says it “is important to trust your gut” and understand that “it is not your fault.” “Sorting through what recently happened can be a difficult time, but providing yourself with compassion and love, along with an understanding that there was nothing you did wrong, is vital.” 

Maggie Ellias, a Social Worker at MSHS, explained the significance of “finding an adult you trust within the school.” That trusted adult can then provide you with the correct and proper connections to get the support you need. Ms. Ellias said, “you do not necessarily have to tell this adult everything but instead use them as a resource to get connected with the specific individuals who can help you.” 

It’s very important that the Incident is reported to the principal, the SRO, or Safe 2 Tell. Both Conrad and Hull stress the importance of reaching out to the MSHS resource officer, Amanda Strider. She can provide the necessary help to students and the schools’ counselors.


Even if you experienced assault or harassment in the past, it is crucial to understand that those emotions and feelings are still valid. Jesse Hull, principal at MSHS, said, “it’s important whether it happened last night or years ago, to report [the incident] and not second guess how you feel.”

It’s relevant to understand that no matter how busy or preoccupied a teacher or adult at MSHS may seem, they are always there to assist you both academically and socially, to the best of their abilities. 

As humans, we are all connected through many things, whether hobbies, shared interests, or simply just being friends; it’s important to know that there are always people to reach out to, who care for you, and who want the best for you. 

Conrad would like to let everyone know: “These events are entirely unacceptable […] No matter how long in the past, it is absolutely heart-wrenching. And we really want to reiterate that it is paramount that we prioritize safety and that we’re taking steps to ensure that we have a safe environment [at Manitou Springs High School.]