By Alex Waterman
A couple of days after a news report on a B-CC student allegedly raping an 11-year-old girl was internally shared with the student body, Dr. Mooney visited The Tattler classroom to receive feedback on how the administration communicated and handled the case to the rest of the school community.
The conversation was compelling and informative. Issues across the board were raised, including why the school wasn’t allowed to release any information but also covering the overall reaction and response of the administration. In general, many students were concerned with the lack of communication that occurred, including the fact that there was no mention of the case by the school until almost a week after the article first came out with the alleged details. By this time, most students and staff were aware of the incident but also relied on all of their information from the one article that had been published.
In an email that had been sent out to Blair and B-CC communities, both principals commented on the case and the response of the community by stating, “Under Maryland law, MCPS must provide free public education to all students aged 5 to 21… There is no data suggesting that being a high school student at 19, 20 or 21 makes a person more or less likely to commit a crime. Any suggestion otherwise is wrong and harmful to our students who work hard every day in their classrooms, extracurricular activities and jobs.”
The xenophobic response that has been outwardly publicized and exploited by other news outlets should not take away from the importance of coming together in a time like this. Members of the community expressed their concern that students with pending immigration status should not be allowed to attend school if they are over the age of 18. This not only signals out a particular group, but also creates a racist and exclusive environment. As mentioned in the email, there will be hundreds of students walking across the stage this year that will be over the age of 18, and no student with the drive to learn should be turned away due to their nationality.
Rightfully so, the administration needed to take their time releasing the information and facts to the student body because of legalities. Although, what would have been more helpful and communicative would be a small statement given by the administration that they understand the students’ concerns and worries, and that even though they are unable to give us more information or details on the case, they have systems in place to help students who may be having difficult emotional responses to the story.
Victims of Crime said, “Over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U.S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized.” If this percentage was applied to our student body, then over 600 students would have been or will be sexually assaulted as a high schooler. The message in this is: sexual assault happens, and you are not alone.
As a school though, communication and conversation need to start now. Within just a 35 minute session with Dr. Mooney, students were able to share and express their concerns, but also discuss and give ideas for what administration could put in place in order to support all students. Ideas such as class discussions were brought up, as well as creating safe places that students can go to if they needed extra emotional support, instead of going to your counselor and possibly waiting in a line (or instead of finding themselves missing class and crying alone in the bathroom, as many of us can admit to doing).
Our community is already strong, but will only grow stronger by coming together and talking about how behavior like this must end. Let this be the time for a change.