Signal Boost: Web Survey on Sexual Harassment and Abuse of Students in Special Education

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Web Survey on Sexual Harassment and Abuse of Students in Special Education

My name is Mary Lou Bensy, and I am a Doctoral Student and researcher at Hofstra University, located in New York. As part of my Doctoral Dissertation, this ground-breaking research and survey is being conducted to help us learn more about the sexual harassment and abuse of special education students in schools. We need this vital information to help protect this victimized population. The survey is designed primarily to gather information on individuals with disabilities who have ever been sexually abused in school.

Parents, guardians, advocates and caregivers of students with disabilities are asked to respond on behalf of ONE victimized student per survey. If an individual chooses to respond on behalf of more than one student, he/she can feel free to take the survey more than once. Adult survivors are asked to complete the survey for themselves.

Note: Gender binary, US-centric so likely best for US residents to answer, TRIGGER WARNING for the questions, survey ends with link to sexual abuse resources, highlights that you can skip questions you don’t want to answer. The disabilities you can select flagged up to me as problematic groupings (“emotional disturbance”?) but this may be that I come from a different educational background.

As always, I cannot answer questions about this survey.

3 thoughts on “Signal Boost: Web Survey on Sexual Harassment and Abuse of Students in Special Education

  1. “Emotional disturbance” in spec-ed-speak is roughly equivalent to “psychiatric disability”, and it’s one of the 13 categories that students can receive services for under the current version of IDEA. (Looking at the first page of the survey, all of the other categories appear to be taken directly from IDEA as well.)

    I wince at the label too, but the terminology and groupings are embedded in existing disability law and I’m not sure if/how they could have asked that particular question without using that categorization scheme.

  2. I wish I could actually answer some of these questions. While my parents didn’t seem to care much about the verbal harassment, saying they didn’t do any thing is hardly saying, “Mom said, ‘What if they were serious?'” Yeah, because I was an idiot who couldn’t hear boys daring each other to ask me out.

    I find this just a little triggering, but it could be worse because I mostly just wind up raging at people for not doing anything. I’m not saying that’s great, but I was kind of hoping I could channel that sort of frustration into something useful. “Cram your experiences into checkboxes” really doesn’t seem to work. It also seems to assume that there was just one of each kind of incident.

    I like the idea (really!) but…ug.

  3. My impression of “emotional disturbance” is stuff like oppositional defiant disorder and behavioral problems, etc. I was just reading a book about segregated special ed schools for kids with ED diagnoses (who are apparently more likely to be segregated for any other kids). The book was about some teenage girls in an ED school where there were only 4 female students, it’s called Whisper Writing and it was pretty interesting and depressing.

    Quijotesca, I had that experience too. I mean I think an actual kid who is having people say things to them as a joke is a lot better at judging whether the person is making fun of them than the kid’s mom who wasn’t there and only hears the words out of context. But my mom would seriously think that people were being friendly when they would ask me questions about my features or my weight or something–she’d be like, “Oh, they were asking you how you are.” Incorrect!

    It’s funny because I was very physically affected by being goosed for a long time (in terms of my relationship to my body), but I just said “I don’t know” about being touched sexually because I don’t know if goosing is touching or a gesture. So I just said that people had made comments and gestures to me.

    Anyway if people aren’t triggered by it I would recommend taking this survey even if you think you weren’t a special education student, because I started taking it just to see what it was like, and then I realized I actually was supposed to be taking it (I don’t think of myself as having been in a special ed student because I was in general ed). It does assume that you had an IEP and some kind of services though.

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