Sexual harassment is a very
prevalent thing in our world today. Many people are victims to sexual harassment, and some
do not even realize that what they are undergoing is sexual harassment- they are inclined
to write it off as normal behavior.
Technically, they are two
definitions of sexual harassment. The first, and most recognized, is quid pro quo,
or "this for that." An example of this would be the phrase "you offer me
sex, and I offer you the job." This type of harassment is most often addressed
because it is easy to define and recognize.
The second form of sexual
harassment is called hostile environment. It is much more difficult to define; it involves
someone or many members of an environment that make a place difficult to live, work, or
learn in due to their sexually related actions or comments. There are three
conditions that must be met under this type of harassment. The behavior must be
sexual in nature, unwelcome, severe and persuasive. Behavior typically includes
innuendoes, suggestive comments, jokes with sexual undertones, insulting sounds, leering,
whistling, obscene gestures, unwanted touches, and assault.
How does all of this apply to us as
high school students? The truth is that more students experience hostile environment than
is ever reported. Many students do not even realize that they are being harassed;
they simply know that they are not comfortable in their current environment.
Here are three separate examples of
sexual harassment. The first two are found in the classroom. One student is
constantly bothered by almost her entire classroom by sexual jokes, innuendoes, and
obscene gestures... all in her direction. She does not think that this is sexual
harassment because she figures that this is typical high school guy behavior. In
another classroom, a girl is so upset by the same events that she bursts into tears.
She summons up the nerve to tell her teacher, and the teacher tells her to "get a
backbone" and "stop over exaggerating the situation." So, both girls
continue to deal with their hostile environments.
The third example is much more
severe. A girl is taken home from a school event by a friend, who in turn does not
let her out of the car until she gives him what he wants. The girl is too afraid to
report the incident and she does not know who to tell if she did report it. So the
situation continues with many other girls. This is truly happening in our school and many
Although all of these instances
involve men as the abusers, they can be the victims as well. This is becoming increasingly
more common and is also something not to be ignored. Harassment, when it occurs, is an
issue of respect, and it can happen to anyone. This is a terrible realization, and we hope
to abolish as much of this behavior as we possibly can before more people are hurt by
Education is the key to preventing sexual harassment.
We are interested in hearing your
opinions on this highly controversial and emotional issue. Please email our e-mail link
to send us your opinions on this article. Unless otherwise requested, your responses may
be posted on the internet for all to read. Please let us know if you do not want your
thoughts posted on the internet, and we will be sure not to post them.
1. In the above article, there were
two instances listed that took place in the classroom. Do you think that these issues are
truly sexual harassment? What would you tell the girls to do if you could speak to them
personally? How would you react to the teacher's words in the second example?
2. The third example listed is much
more serious. State what you would do if you were in this circumstance, and how you think
the girl should act after the incident. How do you think incidents like this one can be
3. What do you think can be done to
promote awareness of sexual harassment in high schools? List specific actions you think
should be taken.
Check out these links for more
information on sexual harassment.