LORAIN, Ohio (WJW) — Lorain City Schools is calling for district-wide action after a passionate, student-led demonstration to raise awareness about sexual assault left leaders in attendance “forever changed.”
In a letter to the community, superintendent Dr. Jeff Graham said school administrators on Friday were aware the students were assembling to talk about the sensitive topic after Lorain police began an investigation into the students’ allegations. It is not known, at this time, who those allegations are against.
Dr. Graham said school leaders weren’t prepared for the courage these high school students would display as each took the microphone and shared their stories, calling their stories deeply troubling.
“Student after student took turns at the microphone — both male and female — to paint a picture of what it means to be a teenager today that none of us wanted to see,” he said.
He admitted the district is falling short of their promises to keep students safe.
“Our kids are hurting,” he said. “And we, the adults, and all of our systems and processes and promises, are failing to keep them safe — from one another, from us, and from themselves.”
In the hours following the assembly, Graham said Lorain High School principal Pat Coleman and his team connected with “the families of many of the students who shared their stories — some for the very first time — in their own words, in the only ways they knew how.”
According to the school district, some students said they reported the abuse to staff, but were made to feel “belittled,” or said no action was ever taken; that is being investigated by an outside agency.
On Tuesday, the district planned for a crisis team to be in place at the school to provide emotional support.
He said the district is working with the Lorain Police Department by having detectives at the high school who will be available to take reports of abuse.
“In the meantime, we must work together to do whatever it takes to continue to listen to kids, to protect them, and to help,” he said. “As a society, our children deserve better.”
**Anyone in need of help, may call RAINN, the national sexual assault hotline, at 800-656-4673**