The Japan Times has published another article dealing with incidents of sexual harassment in the English teaching industry. It is very sad that this kind of article is necessary, but it is. Sexual harassment in the workplace should not be accepted, and if it occurs it should be dealt with by employers. Unfortunately this is often not the case, particularly when the person doing the harassment is a client.
Did you hear about the student who spent the entire lesson with his fly undone, sharing his flowery purple underwear with the world? How about the one about the student who followed his instructor home? It doesn't have quite the same ring to it. “Hey! Remember the time that I was followed by that student, and I was really afraid, but too worried to tell someone because my visa renewal was coming up and I didn't want to rock the boat?” Less funny, somehow. We share our stories because it helps us blow off steam, and makes these awkward moments more bearable. Sometimes though, we are whistling in the dark.
In response to a number of incidents where union members had been sexually harassed by their students, the union decided to investigate the issue, and conducted a survey to gauge the prevalence. We were surprised by the number of people who had experienced sexual harassment, and just how bad it was.
1. Trust your instincts:
When a situation feels incredibly uncomfortable, it is a sign that something is wrong. Ignoring the situation is not going to change anything, but rather make it possible for things to escalate.
I’ve taught at my company for two years now and while most students have been perfectly fine, there have been two incidents that bothered me enough to request to have the students blocked from my schedule.
At the time of the first incident, I was not a union member. It was difficult enough just to discuss with my managers, but the process itself was unnecessarily unpleasant and difficult. I was intimidated, made to feel that it was my fault or untrue, and I was treated like a troublemaker.
This survey is designed to collect data about incidences of sexual harassment committed against teachers.
Take the survey here.