Sexual Harassment In School
Sexual harassment in school is rampant with about 80% of the students admitting to being a victim at one time or another. Nice kids from nice homes are as vulnerable as anyone else. Even when told about sexual harassment in school, teachers tend to say things like, "It's no big deal. Boys will be boys. He just likes you." Or worse, "You're not hurt. They must be doing it for a reason. What did you do to make him act that way?" It's no wonder that many kids never speak up, embarrassed, afraid of being ridiculed, convinced that somehow what happened must be their fault. The statistics are disturbing. A third of high-school students fear sexual harassment in school. More than a quarter report they often experience sexual harassment in school. Over 60% of physical and non-physical harassment happens in front of teachers. And this doesn't count the hundreds of thousands of teens who, upon entering the make-believe world of the Internet, have received unwelcome e-mails with inappropriate sexual content. What is sexual harassment? If a guy tells you a dirty joke or makes a sexual comment about how you look ("You look hot today") or tries to snap your bra strap, is that sexual harassment? Only you know the answer. Harassment makes you feel unsafe and powerless. The stress might make your stomach upset or your head hurt. You might feel sad or angry or demeaned. Trust your gut. You will never confuse a remark which chips away at your self-esteem with a compliment. How does harassment differ from flirting? Flirting is fun and makes you feel happy. It is flattering and welcome and boosts your self-esteem. Flirting centers around a sense of equality. There is nothing threatening or lewd or uncomfortable about flirting. What are the forms sexual harassment in school can take? Most important to remember is that it is YOUR perception of these behaviors that counts, not whether a boy "meant" to harass you. You might be uncertain at first if he blocks your path or whistles or pressures you mildly to date. But you'll definitely be sure if any of these actions were involved. Waiting and following you to and from school Any kind of threatening notes, calls, stares Grabbing, shoving, touching, groping Demanding details of your personal life Sending or leaving pornographic material Exposing themselves or cornering you Spreading false sexual rumors Writing any personalized graffiti What can you do? If you are ever faced with sexual harassment in school, recognize that you have the right to do something about it. If you ignore it, it might convey that this kind of behavior is acceptable. Be clear that in no way are you to blame. Try to have witnesses when you confront the individual. Ideally, state very clearly that you don't appreciate this behavior. Say, "I don't like what you're doing. Don't do it again." That's ideal. If that's too hard, don't feel you have to face an uncomfortable situation alone. Reach out to your parents, counselors, trusted teachers, or another authority figure for help. Sexual harassment in school, or anywhere else for that matter, is not acceptable.
Learn about sexual harassment in school, your rights, and who to talk to at BeingGirl.com.