What is sexual harassment?
Test your knowledge of sexual harassment by taking this true-or false quiz:
(T )(F) Sexual harassment is a problem at school.
(T )(F) Men and boys can be victims of sexual harassment.
(T )(F) Charges of sexual harassment are rarely filed.
(T )(F) The best way to deal with sexual harassment is to ignore it.
Except for the last statement, all of the above are true. Sexual harassment can happen anywhere, at any time, to men and women, boys and girls. It′s as underreported as date rape, but it can′t be ignored. You and your friends have rights regarding your feelings, and you have the responsibility to assert those rights.
Sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. As Justice Potter Stewart once said about obscenity, “I may not be able to define it . . . I know it when I see it.” You may not always be able to say why you feel uncomfortable or threatened, but the tone, facial expression, or body language of the harasser makes you a victim of sexual harassment. It′s an offense of perception—if you feel the act or comment goes beyond the usual teasing or flirting, or it′s more than just a compliment, let the offender know.
Since sexual harassment involves treating someone differently because of his or her gender, it′s discrimination and is against the law. Girls and women are more likely to be victims than males. Harassment can happen anywhere—at school, on the job, or in the community.
If you′re a victim of unwanted sexual comments or actions, do something about it. How you handle the situation is up to you. You may choose to confront the harasser or write him or her a letter. Or you can report the incident to a school official, your boss, or a business owner. A formal complaint or legal action are other possible solutions.
FYI – for more information about sexual harassment in the workplace take a look at the Youth@Work Initiative which is an outreach program to educate working teens about their rights. See www.youth.eeoc.gov/
Also take a look at “What if You’re Sexually Harassed at Work?” on this site.