South Bay educators open dialogue, teach students body boundaries

In the wake of the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh, the national conversation surrounding sexual misconduct is sparking a local conversation. Educators in the South Bay are urging an open dialogue with students.

The Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools is encouraging teachers and parents to have conversations about consent and body safety. She sent a letter to the 31 county superintendents this week that said recent developments in the Brett Kavanaugh hearings are bringing sexual misconduct to the forefront.

Seventh Grader Denise Nguyen said she first heard about sexual misconduct earlier this year, scrolling through YouTube. She found a news story about the sex abuse case of gymnastics doctor Larry Nasser that peaked her interest.

“A lot of these things in this world are pretty messed up but I feel sexual harassment is one of the most
messed up things in the world because you shouldn't be doing that, just for your own happiness,” said 12-year-old Nguyen. 

Nguyen is not alone in her convictions. Many seventh and eighth graders at August Boeger Middle School have a pretty good sense of what's appropriate and what’s not and how it makes them feel.

“It’s scary,” said 13-year-old Pedro Villasenor. “It’s when people do something without the other person's consent.”

“It’s just not right because if someone puts their hands on other people it's not respectful,” said 12-year-old Ysabella Ruvalcaba. 

“It makes me feel sad this is what the world has come to,” said 12-year-old Aliyah Rosete.

Dr. Mary Ann Dewan is the county superintendent of schools. 

“I think it's uniquely challenging to maybe 20 or 30 years ago,” said Dr. Dewan. “Now social media and some of the national narratives are really in your home and at your hand.”

Jose Gonzalez is with the Mount Pleasant Elementary School District, impressed by the students’ knowledge.

“In some of your questions you asked when do you start talking to them about it,” said Gonzalez. “I think you start talking to them about these things when they start school.”

In the era of the Me Too movement, the young people said arming them with facts is crucial.

“I think it's important for us to know so we can be prepared for the future,” said Villasenor. 

“I feel like speaking up is very important or things will just keep happening over and over again repetitively,” said Nguyen.