Michele Borba Blog: High School “Slut List of 2010”: A Wake-Up Call For Another Troubling Youth Trends Sexual Harassment and Aggressive Girls

Michele Borba September 25, 2009 Comments Off on Michele Borba Blog: High School “Slut List of 2010”: A Wake-Up Call For Another Troubling Youth Trends Sexual Harassment and Aggressive Girls

A high school “Slut List of 2010” is causing nationwide concern amongst educators and parents this week. The list featured almost two dozen names of 13 and 14 year old girls and three “honorable mentions,” who were incoming freshmen and was widely circulated amongst students at Millburn High School in New Jersey.

Among the sexually explicit details and highly derogatory comments (supplied by Millburn-ShortHillsPatch) are:

  • “My friends practice giving head on me because I’m a man.”
  • “ I’m so desperate and hairy that I’ll give you [drugs] for free if you get with me.”
  • “I want it so bad I’ll beg you to stick it in.”
  • “I (censored) like I blow the candles out on the menorah.”
  • “Keeping up with the family tradition, [blank] me…. and knock me up.”

In addition to the “slut list” there are other allegations including freshmen being slammed into lockers and seniors blowing loud whistles into the targeted girls’ faces. The “prank” was made public after half a dozen parents complained (thank heavens) to school officials. School superintendent, Richard Brodow, e-mailed parents saying that hazing was not only against school policy “and just plain wrong.” (Interesting thing is that apparently this “slut list” is a high school tradition that “welcomes” incoming freshmen for the last 10 or 15 years. My, my, wouldn’t that make a kid feel like a welcome and safe?)

So what’s going on? It’s clear sexual harassment–intentional, mean, and aggressive behavior which can cause a victim (any girl on that list) severe anxiety and distress. But such an incident affects not only those victims, but an entire school body.

Such insidious incidents break down the foundation of a “safe and caring learning environment” and destroy the fiber that creates a moral community and can create for its victim and bystanders a hostile environment.

But there are also a few parenting wake-up calls here—lessons to be learned because such incidents are not just happening at this high school.  So let’s add a few more concerning details so we recognize a few disturbing youth trends:

Wake Up Call #1: The infamous “slut-list” was generated by senior girls at a “sleep-over.”  It was girls who also distributed the list and senior girls on the soccer team who blew the whistles into the freshmen’s faces and pushed them into the lockers. Parenting Lesson: Research finds that the “sugar and spice” gender is not only no longer always “nice” but also becoming more violent and aggressive. This is a growing and disturbing trend that is not just happening at this high school. Let’s raise our daughters to be assertive but respectfully so.

Wake Up Call #2. Many of the students at that high school reported to the press that the incident is getting far too much press and has been blown “way out of proportion.” The whole slut-list thing they said was just meant to be “fun.” Oh really? Fun? Slamming younger girls into lockers? Blowing whistles in their faces? Making them wear stickers on their backs that read: “Whore” or “Slut”? Fun?? Parenting Lesson: Watch out. Cruelty is learned and slowly becomes “acceptable” if it’s allowed to continued. Each cruel act becomes easier and what I see here is not only some of these students adopting the belief that “it’s cool to be cruel” but also losing touch with the feelings of those victims. There is nothing fun about peer intimidation or being slammed into a locker. How do you ever feel safe in such a school again?

Wake Up Call #3. Millburn High School is a top-ranked high school that was selected by Newsweek as one of the most prestigious high schools in the United States. It also happened at Essex County township, one of those Norman Rockwell kind of places to raise a family. Parenting Lesson: Moral intelligence that helps our kids become compassionate, respectful, know right from wrong and good citizens is a separate ability from mental aptitude. Make sure you are stressing both commodities. What good is a high SAT score or attending one of the top-ranked high schools in the nation if you graduate with only a strong mind void of a caring heart?

My definition of a safe and caring school is straight from CHEERS: “A place where everyone knows your name, and everyone’s glad you came.” I just can’t imagine any student–regardless of those high-ranking and multiple AP class option saying, “Yep, that’s my school.”

Let’s wise up folks and keep our eye on these trends. They are learned and can be turned around.  This is not the way to raise the future citizens and should be a wake-up call to us all.

Michele Borba is the author of 23 parenting books including The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries which includes dozens of practical, research-based ways to turn troubling trends such as insensitivity, bullying, and aggressiveness around.