Private D.C. School Talks To Students About Healthy Relationships

Sep 23, 2018
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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Christine Blasey Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Both Kavanaugh and Ford were high schoolers at private schools in the Washington, D.C., area. Ford says they were at a party drinking. He denies the incident ever took place. She is expected to renew her accusation this week in Senate testimony. We turn now to Amy Killy. She's a guidance counselor at Georgetown Day School. That's a coed private school here in Washington. And to be clear, it is not the all-boys school where Kavanaugh went, Georgetown Prep. Welcome to the program.

AMY KILLY: Thank you.

MONTAGNE: You know, again, I want to say Brett Kavanaugh has vehemently denied Dr. Ford's allegations, but there has been a lot of people talking about these private schools - the drinking and the hard partying. Do you refer to that with your students, or do you take that into consideration? Because they're not always partying.

KILLY: Right, and not all sexual assaults happen when there's alcohol and at parties. We do talk about drugs and alcohol. We do talk about the party scene. We do talk about hook-up culture. We do talk about healthy relationships, and what does that look like? We do talk about consent. We do talk about power dynamics and toxic masculinity. So we talk about all those different pieces and how that fits in to treating people with humanity.

MONTAGNE: In a general sense, you just mentioned power dynamics. The students at these schools can often be from families and parents who are actually powerful.

KILLY: I'm not sure the private school kids have more aggressors because they have more powerful parents. Might other power dynamics also come into play when it comes to who's reporting and who's not reporting? Maybe. But I'm not sure this issue is happening more in private schools than public schools. I think it's happening everywhere. I've been doing this work for almost 20 years. And in that time, from my very first year working in schools, I have had students come to me.

MONTAGNE: What are you able to do?

KILLY: So for me, when someone comes to talk to me, it's really about listening. It's about them feeling heard, knowing that they're not alone.

MONTAGNE: Is it about reporting a crime?

KILLY: It...

MONTAGNE: I mean, the president made a suggestion to the effect that Kavanaugh's accuser, if this had really happened to her - it sounded really bad. Therefore, she would have, of course, had to report it as a crime. So where are the criminal reports, you know?

KILLY: Right.

MONTAGNE: I mean, is that what you do?

KILLY: As a mandated reporter, depending on the state in which the attack occurred, I may have the responsibility to report it. But it's not the same state to state.

MONTAGNE: You know, another part of this conversation over these past days has been whether one can judge an adult for what they did as a teenager because teenagers are developing in so many ways. As a counselor, what's your thinking on that?

KILLY: Yeah, that's a hard question. I mean, do kids grow up? Certainly. Do they make some bad decisions? Certainly. Is an issue of sexual assault the same thing as drinking under age? I don't think so. Sexual assault is not about sex. It's about power. It's about asserting yourself. It's about aggression. And so do people grow out of that? I don't know.

MONTAGNE: That was Amy Killy. She is a counselor at Georgetown Day School here in Washington, D.C. Thanks for joining us.

KILLY: Yeah. Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.