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An update and additional resources for families regarding sexual harassment, assault

Filed in Archive, District, District News by on July 1, 2020

In response to the Me Too Bethlehem Instagram account that includes anonymous allegations of sexual assault, harassment, and objectification in the Bethlehem community, the district is continuing to partner with the Bethlehem Police Department to encourage current or former students who may have information about these incidents to come forward. Superintendent Jody Monroe also issued a follow-up statement on Wednesday, July 1.

 

Text of video statement by Superintendent Jody Monroe, July 1, 2020

I want to follow up with our families about the Me Too Bethlehem Instagram account that first appeared online on Tuesday, June 30th. The account includes many anonymous first-person accounts of incidents ranging from the objectification of girls in our community to sexual harassment to alleged assaults. 

While no names were used in the Instagram posts, in some cases locations were described including the high school, middle school and on school buses. These are very serious allegations, and as I noted in my email to parents, we are working with the Bethlehem Police Department to investigate these claims and to offer assistance to current or former students, with counseling and support. 

When young people speak up in such personal, painful ways, we must believe them. We are documenting each entry and are investigating these to the best of our ability, but we need your help. Parents, if you haven’t already done so, please take some time to speak to your children about whether they have experienced or witnessed any kind of behavior that made them uncomfortable or that has jeopardized their safety. We have resources on our website to aid in these conversations and resources for support, if needed. 

Some of the entries by individuals who identify themselves as current or former students, we believe, are related to cases that have already been adjudicated by law enforcement and/or according to the school district Code of Conduct.

Whether or not these incidents have already been adjudicated or did not warrant police involvement or school discipline, all of the incidents described on the Me Too site demand our attention. They are unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our school community.

Many people have suggested that the pandemic has washed away the veneer of everyday life and is revealing, for all to see, the frayed ends of a society in need of change. 

These frayed ends are some of the hard truths that in so-called “normal times,” society could more easily ignore. Some of these hard truths are coming to light right here in the BC school community. And I want to promise our students, our alumni and our families that change will also come to Bethlehem.

Today, I am restating a pledge I made a month ago to lead a school district that listens more, learns more and does better for those in our school community who may feel marginalized.

When I said it in June I was talking about racial inequity and injustice. We are a traumatized community in many ways and we can have no tolerance for inequality or inequity based on race, color, religion, gender, gender expression, disability, or sexual orientation. And we will not stand for sexual harassment or for the objectification of women and girls, or of any student or staff member at Bethlehem. 

I have been and will continue to be working closely with my administrative team and with our Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion on finding real solutions to these issues in our school. We will be scheduling focus groups to guide the work of our Equity Committee. Please watch for ways that you can help us move forward on long-term initiatives that will make our schools safer, stronger and more responsive to the needs of all children.

Resources for students and families

Bethlehem Police Department

  • 518-439-9973

New York State Hotline for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

  • 1-800-942-6906

The free, confidential hotline is answered 24/7 by trained counselors who can provide information and crisis counseling on the phone. 

Albany County Sexual Assault Crisis Hotline

  • 518-447-7716

Albany County Crime Victim and Sexual Violence Center

Albany County District Attorney’s Office of Crime Victim’s Services

  • 518-487-5460

Sexual abuse and harassment related resources 

Sexual abuse and harassment related resources on CredibleMind

How to talk to children about sexual harassment

Talking to children about sexual harassment and assault