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Virtual School Doesn’t Mean Lack of Title IX Sexual Harassment

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

In a recent interview with a former Title IX and Civil Rights Officer at Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD), Megan Farrell pointed out that Title IX can still happen even in a pandemic and even in a virtual classroom setting. “...we have complaints related to inappropriate language that has been used in the online classroom. In other districts, I have heard reports of students exposing themselves in the online classroom.”

Understanding the ways sexual harassment can still take place as schools juggle virtual, in-person and hybrid classes is important as the pandemic seems to be on track to last throughout the school year and into the next. While it may seem natural to shrug it off as "kids being kids", sexual harassment even virtually should be treated the same as in-person. The classroom may be on a computer, but the regulations are the same.

The problems with cyberbullying and online sexual harassment is that while many of the basics are the same it can add an additional painful element of inescapability—the tormenters can reach the victim at literally any time of day, in any place, including at home, at soccer practice, or at an after-school job. What’s said in the classroom may spill out to social media, texts, and group activities (like online video games).

Here’s some vital things that can help prevent and address sexual harassment online:

  • Train all employees so they know the procedures for reporting Title IX violations.

  • Ensure training and retraining is focused and has recognizable examples of what to look for in an online setting.

  • Inform parents and students about how to report sexual harassment online and during classes.

  • Have anonymous ways to report.

  • Follow up. Many districts use advisory time to go over basics about guidelines and reporting.

If you need help with training your employees and students please contact us:


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