Sexual Harassment

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 others.
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 others' misconduct.

Sexual harassment is quite prevalent in high school.

Education is the key to preventing sexual harassment.

 Discussion Questions

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 prevented?

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.


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