Sexual Harassment: What is It?
Everyone has the right to feel safe and comfortable in school. Sexual harassment may get in the way of a student’s right to learn.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is any unwelcome or unwanted sexual pressure or verbal, visual, or physical contact of a sexual nature. It may happen once or many times. Some examples may include:
- spreading sexual rumors
- repeatedly asking out someone who has said no
- questioning or commenting on someone’s sexuality
- telling sexually offensive jokes
- displaying sexual pictures or magazines
- making comments about someone’s clothing or body
- making rude gestures or noises
- touching or rubbing against a person
- pressuring someone for a date
- other things that are sexually offensive to you
What if I do not say “no” to a certain behavior– is it still harassment?
Yes. You may be too embarrassed or afraid to speak up. Or you may try to ignore it, hoping that it will stop. Unfortunately, if harassment is ignored, it may get worse, because the harasser may think that it’s okay.
What is flirting and what is harassment?
It’s ok to want to get someone’s attention. It’s not ok to make someone feel embarrassed or ashamed. Know the difference between flirting and harassment:
- feels good
- feels bad
How do I know if I’m harassing someone?
- Do my words and actions show respect for the other person?
- Would I say or do this if my parents, girlfriend, boyfriend or teacher were present?
What if I see harassing behavior?
Even if a person experiencing the behavior doesn’t seem bothered, it is still sexual harassment if it makes others feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
Is sexual harassment illegal?
Sexual harassment at work or at school is a violation of civil law. In school, sexual harassment takes away your right to a safe educational environment. It is up to school officials to make sure that all students can learn without harassment and discrimination.
What can I do if I am sexually harassed?
- You can tell someone (and keep telling them until you find someone who believes you).
- You can let the harasser know you don’t like the behavior.
- You can write about the harassment in case you decide to make a report.
- You can write a letter to the harasser.
- You can ask an adult to hand deliver the letter to the harasser so that the harasser will take it seriously.
- If the harassment continues, you can file a complaint with your school, school board, or State Department of Education.
If you are sexually harassed, you may feel:
- inability to trust people
- difficulty concentrating
- a change in sleeping or eating habits
- withdrawal from others
Remember, sexual harassment is NEVER ok!
Talk to someone who can help. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
If you need help, or have questions, you can call the RCASA hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at (540)371-1666.