PARIS – The Oxford Hills Middle School in South Paris recently participated in the REACH Education program, “Sexual Harassment: What Sexual Harassment Is and Isn’t.”

Over a three-week period, all 268 seventh-grade students took part in 90-minute presentations, designed to help students understand what constitutes sexual harassment, common misconceptions and what they can do to help end it.

Students were encouraged to share their opinions, participate in role-playing and ask questions – anonymously if they preferred. School staff said the students’ educational experience and the knowledge they gained on the topic enabled them to feel more comfortable in discussing sexual harassment with teachers.

REACH Educator/Advocate Debbie Barker said she was impressed with the level of genuine interest the students had in learning about sexual harassment and that they took the topic seriously.

The students learned what the emotional and behavioral effects of sexual harassment can be, including its negative impact on their education or a job. Whether it occurs at school, in the community, during a telephone call, in letters or e-mails, students learned and practiced a variety of ways to respond.

REACH is scheduled to work with Mountain Valley Middle School eighth-grade students, Buckfield Junior Senior High School seventh- and eighth-grade students and Hebron Academy ninth-graders.

In addition to the classroom presentations, the REACH educator/advocate is available for one-to-one meetings with students who may have personal questions.

REACH is available to make free presentations to civic, workplace, faith and other professional and community groups. For more information, call Barker at 743-9777, ext. 5.

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