Sexual Harassment:

How to report, what response to expect

Advith Natarajan, Staff Writer

Reporting sexual harassment is the first step toward getting help. The following Q&A from an email interview with senior counselor Erin Spreer details how to report an incident and how counselors and administration can support students. 


  1. If someone has experienced sexual harassment, where can they go to report it and get the help they need? 

“If someone chooses to formally report the incident, they can go to a counselor or administrator. A formal report will always end up going to an administrator. If students need to talk out and process the incident before deciding if they want to formally report, the counselor is a good person to do that with. Based on what the person decides to do, support options can be explored.” 


  1. Is there a certain “checklist” that you go through when a case of sexual harassment is brought about? 

“As a counselor, if a student mentions there has been a case of sexual harassment, I share the options that they have. If they want to formally report the incident, they will need to complete a Complaint Form. This form is the documentation that is then shared with Administration for them to use in the investigation. Not all students want to formally report and I try to help them weigh the pros and cons of what they want and need so they make a decision that they feel confident about.” 

USD 383 Complaint Form: 


  1. As a counselor, if you have a student come in who has been sexually harassed and looking for help, what is your job or role in helping out the victim? 

“My job is to support the student and offer options. Harassment can cause a lot of complicated feelings and it is not my job to tell a student what to do… instead I want them to know what they CAN do. They can report to administration – part of the Complaint form asks students what actions they would like to see the school take – this is important for victims to have a voice in the direction in which things are handled. Some students may want to report to have it on record but don’t necessarily want [administration] to take action at that time. Other situations may result in a student wanting administration to directly address the offender.

It’s also my job to help students process what has happened and allow them to talk through their thoughts and feelings. These experiences can be so surreal and confusing. Sometimes it can take a bit for students to wrap their head around what they experienced, what they need and what they want to do.”


  1. Is counseling the main place for students to go or are there other resources for them to seek help regarding sexual harassment? 

“School counselors can be a great place to get some support. However, we are not trained to provide in-depth therapy. Many people need to process these experiences deeper than School Counselors have the tools to provide. We do often share referrals to mental health professionals – both in the community and organizations that work in partnership with our school. 

I always want parents to be aware if their child has experienced something traumatic – ideally parents and families are great sources of support.”