In a question asking How to stop sexual harassment by teacher? there was a lot of down-votes so I asked why. A comment was made that

(1) We do not handle high school problems. (2) The post contains sh*t qualified for rude/abusive flagging. The question is automatically downvoted by the flags

I am shocked about this for a number of reasons.

  1. As another person commented, bad language is easily edited. On top of that, you could just put a quick pointer into the comments to inform a new member about their language.
  2. High school is within academia as defined in any dictionary (see OED, or Merriam-Webster for examples)
  3. The tour page doesn't mention this. It says

    Academia is a question and answer site for academics of all levels.

  4. The question on what's on-topic for asking questions here within the help pages doesn't mention anything.
  5. The introduction to the site mentions nothing about it
  6. The don't ask list doesn't have anything about high school problems, and above all,
  7. The topic within the question affects not just high school but every level of academic study.

What is the situation with those in high school who have a question regarding their studies? I can understand that homework questions should be avoided, but when you have situations such as sexual harassment or assault going on, why shouldn't they be able to ask the academic community what they would do?

To me, having down-votes in this manner can be damaging to someone in a vulnerable position.


I have just been pointed to a related question (public school teaching grades 7-12 considered "academic"?). Now if certain levels of academic study is not on-topic, shouldn't this be highlighted, especially on the tour page where it says for academics of all levels

  • 1
    Related: "public school teaching grades 7-12 considered “academic”?".
    – Nat
    Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 10:48
  • Can you briefly outline to me the basis of your theory that it may be a troll attempt? If it is, it was a very poor attempt in my opinion Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 11:05
  • Good point @Nat Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 11:14
  • 1
    My own judgement is that it's a troll. If someone used a fake id to send messages, how could the OP tell it was that teacher?
    – Nobody
    Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 11:18
  • 1
    Maybe you should read just one sentence further on the on-topic page. And high school students are definitely not considered academics. Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 11:56
  • I can give you plenty more examples with this example of "high school academics" Commented Feb 25, 2018 at 12:03
  • 3
    That's not the OED you're linking to; that's ODO. This (you'll need a subscription to see it) is the OED, and for the record it does not include high school in its definition: "The academic community; the world of university scholarship".
    – Laurel
    Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 0:25

4 Answers 4


I think there are two issues here. The first is our definition of academia. From our on-topic page

This site is for academics of all levels—from aspiring graduate and professional students to senior researchers—as well as anyone in or interested in research-related or research-adjacent fields.

So our working definition of academia/academics starts at graduate school research. On the teaching front, we consider undergraduate teaching on topic, but don't consider high school teaching to be on topic. While this definition may not match some dictionaries or the general public, I think it is fairly consistent among experts.

As this releases to the question at hand, sexual harassment of high school students is very different than sexual harassment of undergraduate students. High school students are generally minors and sexual harassment of a minor is different than sexual harassment of an adult. The systems in place in a high school are very different than at a university. This means are our experts are not able to answer these types of questions since they are off-topic.

The second issue is that the teacher has already been fired. While there may be some nauce of high school education, the school no longer has an affliation with the teacher and the harassment did not start until the student-teacher relationship ended. This makes it seem like it has nothing to do with academics.

Finally, if the user is a minor and is reporting a crime, that sets off all sorts of warnings. I have alerted the SE team their procedures require them to do.


I think that the linked question is off-topic, but not because of age.

There are certainly questions related to high-school education that remain valid also at higher levels, but this is not the case. In fact, the question states clearly that the teacher had been already removed from the school and, thus, the alleged facts are happening outside of the school environment.


I am the one who made the comment. I'll answer your question to the best I can. I'll leave the things that I cannot answer to the mods.

In our Help center

However, please do not ask questions about

•Undergraduate admissions

•Undergraduate life and culture (sports, nightlife, dorms, leaving the nest, etc.)

So, no, we do not handle high school problems, to the best of my knowledge.

Next, sh*t is not allowed on our site. It's up to the user, you can either flag it or edit it out if the post is salvageable.

Whether it is a troll is up to individual judgement. The Mods may have more clues to tell if it is. I already flag this to the mods.


I think StrongBad has already done a good job of explaining why the question isn't within the topic of "academia", as explicitly defined for this site. I'd just like to address your final assertion a little more thoroughly.

The topic within the question affects not just high school but every level of academic study.

The topic within the question affects many areas of human life outside academic study too. Sexual harassment can be experienced by pilots, gardeners, emacs users, TeX users, writers, and puzzle enthusiasts. There are SE sites for all these topics, but the question wouldn't be on-topic there either. Harassment questions can be on topic here if they're occurring within an academic environment, but topic X isn't automatically appropriate here just because "X also occurs within academia".


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