Friday, July 11, 2008

Sexual harassment and a road trip

Following is the modified, for the protection of the guilty and the innocent, version of the e-mail I sent off today regarding the on-going situation at the camp.

I spent a fair amount of time crafting it, and it seems worth posting, even if it is long.

I'm off to Ottawa again (help me pls!!) to go and get the girls, should be nice in patches. No post till Sunday night or Monday. I will update the twitters though.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Here it is:

It is morally and ethically wrong that the girls are not at camp and the boys are, if that is the case. It is morally and ethically wrong that it was allowed to progress to the degree that the girls felt compelled to leave. It is sexual harassment.

Here also is a link to a site aimed at children and teens that discusses sexual harassment: http://www.legal-info-legale.nb.ca/showpub.asp?id=53&langid=1

The Ontario Human Rights Code and Canadian Human Rights Act clearly state that teachers and principals are responsible if harassment happens in their classroom or school, or anywhere school-related activities are taking place. Employers are responsible if it happens in their workplace or wherever their employees do work-related activities. People who provide services or rental accommodation are responsible if it occurs on their property. I imagine the issue is complicated further because these are minors.

I am sure that you are doing all that you can to rectify the situation, there are a few items however that I feel need further clarification considering the scope of the situation.

There are, as far as I can see, four major issues which you must deal with. These fall into education and reparation for all the individuals involved, including the staff and reparation of the camp's good name.

First and foremost, it seems to me that the two girls need to have some form of response to them as individuals from the club. There needs to be a statement of recognition about what has happened to them. They deserve a clear outline of what the club is doing to prevent such an incident from occurring ever again to any girl at the club, and some form of recompense.

The boys will need education about the acceptability of what they have done, and I am appalled, frankly, that they are still at the camp. I sincerely hope that I have been misinformed about this. They should also receive a formal letter from the camp clearly stating that their behaviour has been noted, a statement that this behaviour is unsupportable, and in order to return at any future date, there would have to be a signed form, by both the boys and their parents, recognizing the nature of what they have done and promising that there would be no repetition of it. This would also need to clearly state that if they are allowed to return, there would be no second chance.

The instructors also have demonstrated a need for education about the nature of these issues, early signs of the emergence of these types of problems and solid tools to help them deal with these situations in a timely and effective manner. There also needs to be a clear procedure in place which will ensure the rapid response of the club to any such incident in the future. I am certain that if you contacted one of the organisations below, or the Ontario Human Rights Commission, they would be happy to help you in educating your staff, as well as creating a statement against sexual harassment for the organisation.

http://www.citizenship.gov.on.ca/owd/english/youthzone/harassment/whattodo/

http://www.ucalgary.ca/resolve/violenceprevention/English/reviewprog/harassprogs.htm#prog2

The second site also lists a cross section of materials for educating staff and children about sexual harassment.

Finally, this has the potential to seriously harm the enrollment in the camp. The parents at _______ camp know each other, and they know many of the potential clients from outside of ______ camp as well, and you can be sure that this situation is being discussed. You will need to reassure the parent community that they are doing all that they can to deal with the situation, and this reassurance should probably take the form of a clear and transparent statement of the actions that you are taking to reassure and extend a hand to the girls, to educate and discipline the boys, to create rules of behaviour and conduct that are strictly enforced, to educate your staff in how to handle these kinds of situations, and to create clear lines of action should they arise.

I feel that this would rebuild faith in the program and instructors which does need to be done.

10 comments:

mmichele said...

it's a crazy world if letters like this are necessary for a kids' camp. terrible. i'm glad you're not letting it go. you are being way more than reasonable. i hope they listen.

elPadawan said...

it's sad it had to go this far... I vote "blame the parents for not educating their kids properly". But that's just me.

dawn said...

An excellent letter. You might end up on the board of directors for the camp with such a letter. I hope they seriously consider what and you have written and take the steps you outlined.

oreneta said...

mmcihele...I'm glad you think so, I've been feeling harsh and crazed...

elPadawan, everyone always blames the parents...I think the camp has some onus here as well.

dawn, thank you...I hope not though, I really don't want to tbe on the board....

elPadawan said...

camp has to know how to cope, but parents have to educate in the first place. camp should not have to take care of the education of the kids in lieu of the parents, is what I mean.

Beth said...

Well done - and needed.
I applaud you and I hope the camp owners take note - and action.

oreneta said...

elPadawan, to be incredibly hockey, it takes a village.....

Beth, thanks, no response as of yet. Welcome back!

hulagirlatheart said...

Well put, mom. Amazing that you even have to deal with this.

featheredfibers said...

Terrific letter, hope it gets the results you want.

Btw, about the question regarding a person panhandling, I am more likely to stop at the grocery store and buy food to give rather than give money. If i see a mom with a baby, I will include milk, diapers, etc.

I may be cynical, but many panhandle to purchase drugs, alcohol and other vices.

Thus said, I am sensitive to the huge number of persons with mental illness who live on the street.

oreneta said...

Hula, thanks, it wasn't a fun one to write. Eldest had a good day, and I don't think any of the perps are in her group..thank goodness.

Carla, I did get a note that someone had read it anyway, we'll see what happens from here. It is always a tough problem I still haven't weighed in with what I do...tomorrow in a spare moment.