August 12th, 2014

Sexual Harassment & Teens

At a time when teens are developing their sexuality, they are bombarded with sexual images practically everywhere. Even children are exposed to sexual images at early ages on television or through their favorite pop stars. In recent years, pop stars are wearing less and less and are also engaging in sexually suggestive behavior on stage. Music award shows, popular with teens, showcase pop stars engaging in sometimes vulgar sexual behavior. Such behavior sends the wrong message to teens.

Related: Sexual Violence & Teens

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is increasingly common among teens. Sexual harassment is any repeated and unwanted physical or verbal advances that are sexual in nature. Such advances create a hostile environment for the victim. Examples of sexual harassment include:

  • unwanted touching of private parts (breasts, buttocks, etc.),
  • indecent exposure,
  • sexual jokes,
  • comments about a person’s body,
  • displaying sexual material (images, video, etc.), and
  • sexually explicit gestures.

Teens may confuse sexual harassment with flirting. The difference between the two is how the recipient feels. Sexual harassment is unwanted and causes the recipient to feel embarrassed, scared and demeaned. On the other hand, flirting causes the recipient to feel happy or flattered.

Related: Bullying & Cyberbullying – What Can Be Done About It

What You Can Do About Sexual Harassment

  1. Be assertive. Tell the harasser that you will not tolerate the behavior.
  2. Report the harassment to the school. Schools owe students a duty to take harassment and sexual violence seriously. Under federal law, most high schools are required to prevent discrimination against girls.
  3. Document the harassment. Keep records of the behavior, including any pictures or obscene material.

The final thing you can do about sexual harassment is seek legal advice. Sexual harassment is illegal and has no place in educational settings. Victims of sexual harassment can seek justice by filing reports with local law enforcement. In addition, victims can seek justice by filing civil actions against the perpetrators and in some situations, schools which fail to take appropriate action.

In addition, it is important to note that sexual harassment can be perpetrated not only by fellow students, but also school employees such as teachers, teacher aides, coaches, etc. If school employees commit sexual harassment, it is important to speak up and report the actions to the school. Read: Teachers & Sexual Abuse of High School Students

Another Reason Why You Should Report Sexual Harassment

It is important to report sexual harassment because doing so can prevent future harassment and/or sexual violence. People who sexually harass others may go on to commit sexual violence, especially if their acts go unreported. Essentially, they learn that their behavior is acceptable. Eventually and over time, sexual jokes and seemingly innocent touching can turn into increasingly bold behavior, including forcible sexual acts.

About Laffey Bucci D’Andrea Reich & Ryan

Firm founder and partner, Guy D’Andrea, is a former sex crimes unit prosecutor who now handles civil crime victims’ rights cases. Laffey Bucci D’Andrea Reich & Ryan is based in Philadelphia and has offices throughout the northeast area, including NJ, NY and DE. Please call the firm for more information. Click To Call

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