Sexual misconduct addressed in junior health classes


By Sophie Driscoll ’19 & Layla Wofsy ’19

Rosie Enyart, a Prevention Educator from The Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counselling and Education, visited junior health classes earlier this month to talk to students about sexual harassment and sexual consent.

“I came in to speak to the junior health classes at the request of Ms. Shamas and Ms. Mitteness,” Enyart said. “My agency, The Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education, has been visiting Staples High School health classes for years to teach students about sexual harassment and sexual assault.”

Health teacher Kelly Shamas notes that the topic of sexual misconduct is especially salient right now because the Weinstein effect has become extremely prominent in our society.

“I have been doing these lessons for many years now and given what is happening in the media it has now been a hot topic, so people are paying closer attention to it,” Shamas said.

Students’ responses to Enyart’s presentation have largely been positive.

“Rosie made me realize that sexual assault is a topic that should not be considered taboo to discuss,” Olivia Utter ’19 said. “She was able to approach such a difficult topic in such a comfortable manner, which I really appreciated.”

Some students expressed gratitude that the Staples administration permits the inclusion of sexual misconduct in the junior health curriculum.

“I think Rosie was brought into the health classes to inform us about sexual harassment and assault, how we can identify them, and how we can defend from them,” Sam Whittle ’19 said. “Of course, I think this is an important message.”

However, students hold differing opinions regarding the appropriate age to educate young people about the topic. Some believe that consent should be discussed with students of all ages.

“This is definitely an important lesson that should be taught to every grade, because the information is essential to understanding one’s rights and the laws that outline those rights regarding sexual assault and harassment,” Kristin Amato ’19 said.

Conversely, some students believe that the topic should only be discussed in high schools.

“I think that it should be taught to ninth graders and up,” Nicholas Denton Cheng ’19 said. “I don’t think it will be very effective [to discuss the topic with younger students] as they usually won’t have as many connections to the issue.”

Students left Enyart’s presentation with an abundance of information about how to combat sexual misconduct. Enyart explored the nuances of sexual misconduct among high schoolers, addressing topics such as how teenage use of drugs and alcohol renders them unable to grant consent.

“I understood a lot more about the realities and legal details of sexual harassment and assault,” Denton Cheng said. “I left the lesson thinking about how the issue was more complex and gray than I previously assumed.”

Photo by Nicky Brown ’19