Sexual harassment by students in eikawa

Did you hear about the student who spent the entire lesson with his fly undone, sharing his flowery purple underwear with the world? How about the one about the student who followed his instructor home? It doesn't have quite the same ring to it. “Hey! Remember the time that I was followed by that student, and I was really afraid, but too worried to tell someone because my visa renewal was coming up and I didn't want to rock the boat?” Less funny, somehow. We share our stories because it helps us blow off steam, and makes these awkward moments more bearable. Sometimes though, we are whistling in the dark.

 

After hearing of several incidents at their company, the General Union Gaba Branch conducted a survey industry wide. Many teachers, both men and women, came forward and admitted that they have been harassed by students in the workplace.

 

 

Male

Female

Total

Yes

48%

57%

52%

Perhaps

9%

30%

20%

No

43%

13%

28%

In the survey, 57% of all women surveyed have experienced this kind of sexual harassment at work, and another 30% said that perhaps they had. 48% of men also stated that they have been sexually harassed by students.

 

 

 

Actions 

Males

Females

Total

Informally spoke to supervisor

38%

25%

30%

Lodged complaint

0%

20%

12%

Felt talking to management wouldn't help

23%

35%

30%

Wasn't comfortable talking to management

8%

30%

21%

Wasn’t a big problem

31%

20%

24%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The size of the school seems to make no difference; we had responses from employees of the big language schools, smaller schools, and ALTs. Inappropriate behavior and comments are occurring across the board.

 

When asked about the kind of action they took and management’s response, one thing became very clear; teachers are generally stonewalled at the lower managerial level. A large percent of men and women either felt that talking to management would not help or were not comfortable doing so. Those who did talk to management had a variety of responses, mostly unsupportive. One employer interviewed other instructors before ultimately doing nothing. Other responders have reported that their head office said that students harassing teachers needed to be removed from the teachers’ schedule, however that order was ignored by individual branches, causing them to have to routinely teach the student anyway.

 

Although a wide range of experiences were reported, some of the most disturbing ones were by those people who had been sexually harassed, but had felt that reporting it would not serve any purpose, and by those who had reported it, but received no help.

 

Actions taken

Males

Females

Total

employer took no action

23%

20%

21%

concerns dismissed

15%

15%

15%

made to feel it was their fault

0%

5%

3%

made to feel they were imagining the problem

0%

5%

3%

complaint took seriously

8%

15%

12%

student removed from class

0%

5%

3%

student’s contract cancelled

0%

0%

0%

 

With no official procedure in place, or even an adequate definition of sexual harassment, it is very difficult to ensure that the person who suffers harassment feels safe and protected from ever having the same experience again. Regardless of the individual situations, everyone has a right to feel safe - to feel like they have somewhere to turn should they need help. The fact that people don’t is a symptom of a sick system, and one that needs to be changed.

 

Let’s hope that in the future, sharing our stories with our peers is simply the beginning of the process, and it does not end with “the company dismissed my concerns.”

 


footer ffooter hfooter mfooter s

Additional information