What High School Students Can Learn From the Kavanaugh Scandal

Students of my generation are experiencing a time unlike any other.

It seems as though each and every day, a new woman is empowered to share a story of sexual assault, harassment, or misconduct – however tragic it may be. The #MeToo movement does not stop on the highest floors of office buildings or within Hollywood studios. It is a conversation that has permeated every aspect of public life, including the Supreme Court with recent allegations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s judicial nominee.

He may be a 53 year-old judge vying for a seat on the bench of the country’s highest court, but Judge Kavanaugh’s life is still tainted by his alleged actions as a 17-year-old high school student. Christine Blasey Ford, a high school contemporary of Kavanaugh’s, recently vocalized her claim that the nominee sexually and forcibly attacked her at a high school pool party.

While Kavanaugh has fervently denied these claims, Ford has provided a detailed account of the incident. Two other women have come forward since Ford: one who studied with Kavanaugh at Yale and another also from high school. Ford and Kavanaugh testified before the Senate on Thursday.

Whether substantiated or not, this development makes clear the long lasting influence of one’s actions – even those that occurred during teenage years. If Kavanaugh had grown up in the technological age in which we are currently consumed, one can only imagine the social media files that would allow for a speedy investigation into the supposed incident.

Kavanaugh, who attended Georgetown Preparatory School – an elite, private high school in Washington DC – is the epitome of the privileged, privately educated male. The allegations against the judge are unsurprising considering the world that he comes from – one of entitlement and immunity in which young males are convinced that they can do whatever they want to whomever they want without warranting negative repercussions.

In fact, a few weeks ago, allegations emerged against Brunswick School – an all-boys private school in Greenwich and an academic and athletic competitor of SLS – claiming that the school had gone out of their way to tamper with witnesses and corroborate with police in order to cover up sexual assault suits against their students.

This news, while both shocking and disheartening, is an important development in the world of Fairfield County privilege. Evidently, the entitlement experienced by young, privately educated men frequently results in a lack of self-awareness and personal responsibility – even within the bubble in which we reside. For the girls who have been brave enough to speak out and share their stories, a lack of action on the part of the school is utterly heartbreaking.

The Kavanaugh scandal, in conjunction with the recent allegations against Brunswick, reveals that this despicable behavior has become normalized amongst young Americans.

Ford’s testimony has led to a movement of women coming forward to share their personal experiences with high school and college sexual assault. Those who are sharing their stories – many of whom are decades removed from this time in their lives – make clear the fact that, more often than not, young girls live in fear and struggle to speak out. Given the male privilege and domination that infests our society – and the pervasiveness of our “shame and blame” culture – one would expect the hesitation of young victims to openly discuss these very personal incidents.

For many of us students, this breaking news should serve as a wake-up call. Whether on the national level or within our own communities, we must be aware of the prevalence of sexual assault. For those of us who will be heading to college in less than a year, this news is both disheartening and comforting. While it may seem as though sexual assault and harassment is inescapable, we are living at a time in which victims who share their stories are becoming increasingly respected and supported.

For my male classmates – many of whom are receiving similar educations and leading comparable lives to those of a young Brett Kavanaugh – I urge you to educate yourselves not only on this news, but on the many instances of sexual assault that torment the minds and hearts of victims across this nation. It is up to you to change this perception of male entitlement and to show that decency and respect can – and will – triumph.

If one thing is clear, every victim deserves a voice – no matter his or her age. Let’s only hope we can come together and open our ears. A voice is meaningless unless it is heard.

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