BALTIMORE — On Wednesday, students from schools across the city left class to protest the districts handling of sexual assault allegations.
In a statement a spokesperson for the district said they are aware of allegations of a sexual assault of a student at Baltimore City College.
Saying school leaders have acted and that they are opening a Title IX investigation.
Meanwhile the students say this is bigger than one incident.
“It’s a problem with the whole district,” Rita, a Baltimore City College student said. “It has a lot to do with rape culture and patriarchy and just the way in which the world works that created the systems that we live in today.”
Brielle is a junior at Mervo High School who says she is a survivor of sexual assault.
“It’s been going on for years and nobody is saying anything,” she said. “It’s sad that we have to stand out here during school hours and miss work, classes, important tests to stand out here and say we’ve been sexually assaulted. And it happened years ago or it happened last week and we said something and everyone is just brushing it off their shoulder like it doesn’t matter.”
Riley, a Sophomore at Baltimore City College, said the abusers aren’t being punished enough and know they can get away with it.
“Our basic human rights are violated and they are not even taught,” said Riley. “The fact that something so horrible and disgusting such as sexual assault is so rampant and so ingrained into so many different schools that this many women and girls have stories to share so profoundly just shows that there’s no justice.”
We sent a list of questions to the district after their initial response.
They said all students involved have a right to due process while the investigation is underway, but they take appropriate steps to protect the safety of both students and avoid contact when possible.
Regarding other assaults, they say that students can fill out a form or make a report directly with the Title IX coordinator
Saying each allegation is investigated by the City Schools’ Department of Fair Practices.
“All of these things to avoid doing what they really should be doing,” said Abigail Bates, a student or organized the event. “Taking action to be one in the first place preventative and second of all actually giving students consequences so that they can realize they are not allowed nor are entitled to do any of this.”
Amanda Rodriguez is the Executive Director of Turnaround Inc. They are the rape crisis center for Baltimore City and County.
She says it’s important to give survivors the power and platform to speak out and to encourage them to reach out and for parents to talk to their kids.
“It’s a good thing to talk about the healthy ways to communicate about sex and what consent means. No means no is one thing but it should be much more about yes means yes, and what those communications should look like,” Rodriguez said. “Both from our boys and our girls.”
Rodriguez said it’s also important to teach students about bystander intervention to step in without endangering yourself or the target of the abuse.
For information and resources click here.