This article is the fifth in a six-part series that addresses concerns five (The fifth student left halfway through the interview. This interview includes four students.) Mahomet-Seymour High Schoool students have about their environment at school. During an interview about school safety, these students discussed a multitude of issues that, they believe, lead to an unhealthy learning environment. These students come from different backgrounds and grades. To protect their identity, their names have been replaced with numbers. The Mahomet Daily shared all articles with district administration and gave 20 hours for comments. No comments were received.
The spotlight on the Me Too movement has drawn attention to empowered women who say that “time’s up.”
But the reality is that despite all the attention directed towards holding people accountable for sexual violence nationwide, there are still those that either don’t feel like their voices will be heard or are unaware that what they are experiencing is wrong.
“Kids are uneducated about these things and (the district is) unaware that it happens all the time,” Student 5 said.
Whether in health class or doing a “booster” training students in grades 6 through 12 in the Mahomet-Seymour School District receive sexual education.
But, four students at Mahomet-Seymour High School say the education they receive is not enough.
“I don’t think (the district) know(s) exactly how to approach it because I can guarantee you that at least 30 girls in (the junior) class and maybe 10 guys have gone through some form of sexual assault or harassment,” said Student 2. “But no one does anything.”
The students said that sex education at the high school included a slideshow of sexually transmitted diseases and instruction to practice abstinence.
After winter break, students throughout Mahomet-Seymour High School were given a “booster” course on healthy relationships, recognizing teen dating violence and how to seek assistance.
Students watched a video that showed a toxic relationship with a boy manipulating a girl, pressuring her to send him pictures. The boy in the video spread the pictures all over social media, completely devastating her.
“Everyone in the auditorium started laughing,” Student 2 said.
“Everyone was laughing throughout the entire video cause it’s a joke,” Student 1 said.
Although the students appreciated the time and effort the educators put into the assembly because they can tell the educators are “honestly passionate about the topic,” students said they were laughing because the scenario that takes place in the video is actually rampant throughout Mahomet-Seymour High School.
“It’s gotten to the point where we are so desensitized to this stuff,” Student 2 said. “This is happening all over. It doesn’t matter anymore. Sexual assault and sexual harassment happens all the time. It’s just that no one pays attention to it because ‘girls are crazy’ and ‘boys will be boys’ or maybe ‘she shouldn’t have put herself in that situation.’”
Student 3 said, “guys and nudes are literally an epidemic” at Mahomet-Seymour High School.
Sometimes girls will send their boyfriend a nude picture. Other times, the student feels forced to provide or view a picture.
“One time I’d had an issue with a student who was sending me gross pictures, and I did not ask him to do that,” Student 1 said. “I wasn’t going to screenshot it from Snapchat because I was like ‘Aggghhhhh. Nope.’”
Without proof of the exchange, Student 1 had nowhere to go with the information.
Student 4 told a story of a girl posting a nude picture of another girl on social media. Although the post has been taken down, she said she knows students today who still have a screenshot of the photo on their phones.
The students believe that there should be education and conversation on the ramifications of sending nude photos of minors.
“I think the first thing we need to do is tell girls you shouldn’t do it even though I understand the circumstances of your relationship,” Student 1 said.
“That’s like saying don’t have sex because it’s going to happen,” Student 3 said. “If you understood the risk of it, I think it would deter a lot of girls, but it’s still going to happen.”
“I just don’t think most girls understand it,” Student 1 replied.
“I think telling girls the risk of it and educating guys on how utterly disrespectful and disgusting it is would definitely help,” Student 3 said.
The students said they need more help than education, though. They need for adults to listen, to believe and even to intervene when appropriate as they find out about what is going on.
The students are not only concerned about the nude photos being distributed by text messaging, but also for the girls who feel like they have no way out of the cycle.
Student 2 has seen firsthand the impact this has on girls.
“I went to the bathroom and I was just washing my hands, and this girl was near tears,” Student 2 said, ‘It’s terrible that I sent them in the first place, but the person I sent them to, I trusted and he sent them to (to other boys).’”
The students said that sometimes girls are blackmailed into sending nude photos.
“There’s definitely more than one person who does this,” Student 1 said.
Student 3 has been sent some of these nude pictures.
“I was in a group chat with a bunch of friends and they just started sending girls’ nudes. And then I left. And they added me back and then I left and finally got out of it.”
“A week ago my friend who is still in the group chat is like ‘Look at this,’ and literally it’s a slideshow (of nude pictures of Mahomet-Seymour High School students).”
The students said that without someone to listen to or believe them that this is happening, it makes the students scared to try to do anything to stop it.
“No one is listening to us anymore,” Student 2 said.