New National SASH Club Program Empowers Youth to Confront Sexual Harassment and Assault

By Nicole Mitchell

When I was in high school, I was sexually harassed. This boy, a year older than me, would follow me around school daily, which made me uncomfortable. One time I even remember him pretending to drop something so he could look up my skirt. Actually, I wasn’t the only person he did that to. There were plenty of other young high school girls going through the same thing because of this person. At the time, there was nothing I could do about it. I was confused and had nowhere to go.

This has to change, and thankfully, there are programs being put in place that will help young people understand what sexual harassment really is and take a stand against it today. Stop Sexual Assault in Schools has created and launched its new initiative SASH Club to empower youth ages 13+ to take action against sexual harassment and assault.

SASH Club provides a set of free online, ready-to-use tools on their website for teens of all genders, races, ethnicities, and orientations to start the discussion and educate themselves and others about sexual harassment and assault, support survivors, and make real change in their schools and communities.

SASH Club targets a national epidemic of sexual harassment and assault among youth that disrupts or derails countless young lives. According to an AAUW national study, half of teens of all genders in grades 7-12 report being sexually harassed at school each year, with one in five girls reporting that they have been sexually assaulted at school.

Photo by Kiên Nguyễn, Unsplash

“Sexual harassment and violence in K-12 schools are extremely serious problems that bleed into the entire school community,” says Esther Warkov, Executive Director and co-founder of the nonprofit Stop Sexual Assault in Schools, “Because schools are not prioritizing safe learning environments, it is imperative that students drive the change.”

SASH Club’s approach gives resources to young people about what sexual assault and harassment really is and empowers them to immediately address these actions “through dialogue, mutual support, and action.” The club’s materials are free to download for anyone, whether you’re able to start a chapter or not.

“These tools enable young people to influence not only peers but administrators and other local decision-makers to effect change. So SASH Club’s benefit to individual students, the school community, and society as a whole is far-reaching and lasting,” says Warkov.

Teens are encouraged to form a Students Against Sexual Harassment chapter—a SASH Club—using the online startup kit that provides downloadable launch materials, guidance, and suggested activities. SASH Clubs may choose from the many “SASH Club Power Topics” presentations to stimulate discussion about ending sexual harassment and assault and to organize activities in their school or community.

The free 12 SASH Club Power Topics cover important issues typically overlooked by school curricula including: consent, reporting sexual harassment, dating violence, what to do if sexually assaulted, rape culture/victim blaming, alcohol and date rape drugs, supporting LGBTQ+ students, and more. More SASH Club Power Topics will be released throughout the school year.

SASH Club tools are designed to be shared with everyone. If you’re unable to create a SASH Club in school, feel free to share the information through other youth organizations, community groups, scouting, and youth faith-based organizations.

The SASH Club national launch follows a highly successful year-long pilot program and employs a national online advertising and social media campaign aimed at teens and youth-serving organizations. SASH Club is guided by the experienced advocates, academics, legal and sexual assault experts, and student advocates affiliated with the nonprofit Stop Sexual Assault in Schools.

Nicole Mitchell
 (she/they) is a writer and social media manager who graduated December 2020 with a degree in strategic communication. A few of her favorite things include cuddling with cats, listening to Bon Iver, making lattes, and running her book club (even though sometimes she forgets to read the books.)

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