What is sexual harassment?

"What is sexual harassment?" my granddaughter asked after listening to the news last week. It's a good question, and one that all kids should be asking.

Basically, sexual harassment is another form of bullying. Only with sexual harassment the comments, gestures, suggestions, threats or unwanted physical contact is aimed at your body parts, your appearance, of your sexuality. It can occur at school, after school, on your job, or even at your home, and it is NOT just an adult problem. 

Both boys and girls can be victims. In fact, some experts believe that 1 out of every 7 boys and 1 out of every 4 girls will become victims. Why so many? One of the answers is social media. Kids as young as 5 years old are now carrying smartphones, and smartphones offer an easy and efficient way to intimidate, bully, and sexually harass other kids.  

Kids with smartphones and computers can now receive unwanted texts, emails, and even pictures, and since some texts now disappear shortly after viewing, the bully can be anonymous. Then of course, there are the old ways to bully that become sexual harassment--spreading rumors of a sexual nature, writing things on the bathroom wall, grabbing or groping or brushing against your body in the hall, telling sexual jokes when you are in the room, sexual gestures, and posting comments on social networks like Instagram or Facebook.

It's important to remember that this type of harassment can come from your peers, older kids, and even adults such as coaches, teachers, or other parents, so what can you do?


It's not easy to to, but it is necessary. The only way to stop the intimidation, hurt, and fear that sexual harassment causes is to bring the darkness into the light. If you receive an unwanted text, email, or picture, show it to a trusted adult. Don't believe the bully! You know who you are and what you believe. You are an amazing person, and under no circumstances do you deserve to be bullied or sexually harassed. The power is in your hands! Now the knowledge is too.

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