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Sexual Harassment in the Teen Years

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 3 Jan 2015 | comments*Discuss
School Advice Health Body Harassment

Being a teenager can be difficult enough, with most kids dealing with the stresses of school and trying to get an education, let alone the sometimes unwelcome attention that they might get because of their body development. Sexual harassment isn’t just something that happens in adult workplaces; teenagers are often victims of such behaviour, yet they may feel that they have nowhere to turn for advice.

Unhealthy and Unwelcome Sexual Advances

The teen years bring with them a great deal of change, both physically and emotionally. While many teens have looked forward to and are pleased with their developing bodies, they may not yet have the life experience to understand that their physical maturity can sometimes draw unwanted attention from peers and even adults, and they may not know how to handle the looks and comments that their physical appearance elicits from others.

While it is not always the case, teenage girls are more likely than boys to feel uncomfortable about this increase in attention, especially when it crosses the line into sexual harassment. Inappropriate or sexually explicit comments can be frightening for teens, who may feel pressured to engage in sexual activity before they are emotionally ready. Sometimes the harassment comes from strangers, but it is more common amongst peers or even someone that the teen is dating.

Sexual Harassment in a School Environment

Parents send their kids off to school in order for them to get an education, but when they are subjected to sexual harassment, it can be hard for kids to focus on their studies. Parents and educators need to work together to see that teenagers feel safe at school and when they see any evidence that a student is being subjected to any form of harassment, they need to take immediate action. Schools need to have policies in place that prohibit such behaviour, and kids need to know that when they experience any difficulties, they can approach staff members for advice and support.

Teaching Teens to Behave in a Sexually Respectful Manner

Preventing sexual harassment amongst the teenage population must begin in their homes. Kids, both boys and girls, need to be taught to treat others with respect from an early age and they must also learn to stand up for themselves and speak out when they are fearful or uncomfortable. Parents often have difficulty talking to their kids about sexuality and body issues, but if they approach these topics as simply part of a general health education, it may take away a bit of the awkwardness. Both boys and girls need to be made to understand that while they may have strong sexual urges, they must be respectful in expressing their feelings. It is never okay for them to harass or belittle another, no matter the reasons.

Providing Teenagers with a Support System

While young kids often turn to their parents immediately whenever they are feeling sad or frightened, teens may be reluctant to approach their parents about highly personal issues. Teenagers do need to know that they can turn to their parents and other important adults in their lives, though, especially if they feel that they are in any kind of danger. If they’ve always been open and available to their children, parents may find that the kids come to them readily when they have questions and concerns, but even if that is not the case, parents of teens may want to open up the lines of communication so that their kids can know that they can always go to them with any problems they may have.

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I recently ended a relationship with a boy called Matt who main interest was going to the unused toilets, me taking off me clothes off and him performing sexual acts on me. Over text I agreed, just in time I broke up with him and he said I was gullible and implied I was stupid for believing he would ever do that. Another boy named Keenan asked me to play dirty truth or dare. I did. It wasn't truth or dare. It was me showing the majority of my upper half. I was nearly at his house and he didn't turn up. I think that was the luckiest few minutes off my life. I left and have confided in my 3 best friends. Gabby; who had experienced the exact same as me with Keenan but said no, Eddie; my ex boyfriend who is in the cadets and is staying with me at lunch so Keenan & Matty cannot get to me. And finally Harvey; the most caring person have ever met. I looked after him when he was broken and vice versa. All 3 of them say I need to report it but how? My parents would die if they found out, I have a twin sister who has no idea about what happened with Keenan and an 8 year old brother who I have to be a role model for. Is it even illegal in the UK if I agreed to it (with Matty, we never did anything other than him planning it and me agreeing. With Keenan I sent pictures with most of my upper half showing). It was so hard to say "No". I've always thought it was easy, but it's the hardest thing ever. Questions: ~ Is it illegal in the UK? ~ What I likely to happen if I report it? ~ Will I disgrace my parents? ~ What do I do? Georgia-May, 14 (I know, I'm young....)
May - 3-Jan-15 @ 1:28 AM
@SDiggines - the ads we can see on this page are all related to the topic. We do report inappropriate ads and also have filters to prevent anything related to porn and similar subjects. Can you email a screen shot of what you can see to janem@safekids.co.uk and we will investigate.
KidsDevelopment - 23-Oct-13 @ 2:11 PM
I am a first year (mature) university student and am researching Sexual Harassment among peers in secondary schools - so found your website to see if it would be useful. I was horrified to find that your advertisers and pop-up ads are inviting young adolecents to 'Chat Free Now to 5000+ Thai Women' in nothing less than a bra on. This is placed right next to the title 'Sexual Harassment in a School Environment'. If children are supposed to come to this website for help - you are doing an awful job if you are allowing them access to pornography as well. Please note that this is written from the University Library's computers so I would imagine the web content is highly screened. Appalled. SDiggines
SDiggines - 23-Oct-13 @ 1:48 PM
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