Within the past few years, sexual assault and harassment have become some of the most pressing issues in the United States. The news has been filled with one scandal after another, bringing to the surface how prevalent the issue of sexual assault really is in America.
While sexual abuse is primarily considered to be found in private areas or the workplace, schools all over the country have reported cases of sexual assault. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is the worst school system in the nation regarding sexual assault, with four cases being currently investigated.
Unfortunately, the United States Department of Education recently froze $4 million of a $14.9 million Magnet Schools Assistance grant that was given to CPS in 2017, which was meant to be spread over five years. The reason behind the block was that CPS “was not complying with investigations and addressing disturbing trends.”
At a time like this, CPS desperately needs any amount of aid to combat sexual abuse.
According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, the following situations were only some of the incidents that occurred this summer in CPS. One teacher allegedly gave a student sangria before sexually assaulting her in his car. He had been the subject of other complaints at the school prior to the incident. Another student, then a sophomore, said she was punched and forced into an empty building by a group of boys who made her perform oral sex.
None of the suspects in the last case were taught sexual discipline in school, according to the victim.
The supposed loss of funding to CPS would affect three elementary schools, all predominantly made up of minority students or students from low-income families.
CPS spokesman Michael Passman wrote in an email to NPR, explaining what the cut in aid means for CPS.
“The Trump Administration’s move to threaten funding for schools that serve children of color is another attack on Chicago considering CPS has already taken significant steps recommended by an independent expert to transform the way it responds to and prevents abuse,” said Passman.
Following the $4 million freeze in aid, the Department of Education consulted Maggie Hickey, a former federal prosecutor and Illinois Executive Inspector General. Hickey’s role was to assess the district’s policies regarding sexual misconduct.
From her assessments, CPS will now partner with Chicago’s Children Advocacy Center, and adequately update its sexual education curriculum. Included in the new curriculum will be more information concerning sexual violence.
“We are working tirelessly to address this pervasive societal challenge and safeguard our students—including by cooperating with the Department of Education—and it is hard to believe that any administration committed to providing low-income and minority students with real opportunity would be able to stomach the threats the Trump Administration is making,” said Passman.
According to a 2016 report by the Department of Health and Human Services, there were 57,329 sexual abuse victims that year across the United States.