Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teens and Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace is unacceptable. When you hear about it happening with teenagers it is more deplorable. Who is responsible for your teen's safety when they go to their job?

Recently 20/20 ABC News reported on this disturbing subject. Sexual Harassment Policy Expert, Susan Strauss, says the problem is especially prevalent in fast food restaurants where so many teenagers have their first jobs.

"They're vulnerable, they're young, they're new to the workforce," Strauss said of the teenage employees.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual behavior. It may take different forms, including:

  • Physical contact, like grabbing, pinching, touching your breast or butt or other body parts, or kissing you against your will;
  • Sexual comments, like name-calling (slut, whore, fag), starting rumors about you, making sexual jokes at your expense, or making sexual gestures at or about you;
  • Sexual propositions, like asking you for sex or repeatedly asking you out when you have said no;
  • Unwanted communication, like phone calls, letters, or e-mails. These can be mean, nasty, or threatening, or they can seem flattering or nice but still make you uncomfortable.
These are only examples; there may be other forms of behavior that are not listed here but still can be considered sexual harassment.

Both the harasser and the victim can be either male or female, and they do not have to be the opposite sex. The harasser can be another teenager or an adult.

Reference: Teen Victim Project

  • 81 percent of students will experience some form of sexual harassment at some time while they are in school, with 27 percent experiencing it often.
  • 85 percent of students report that students harass other students at their schools.
  • Almost 40 percent of students report that teachers and other school employees sexually harass students in their schools.
Do you suspect your teen is being harassed at their employment? Whether you answer "yes" or "no" you have to take the time to discuss this subject with them. They need to understand even if they are not strong enough to say "no" to sexual advances or afraid to say "no", it is wrong and they can tell someone.

Sexual harassment is not limited to just workplaces, it could be in school, youth groups, or any situation that involves a person that is less than ethical. This information is not to alarm as much as it is to bring an awareness to parents.

According to a recent study in Maine, one in three high school students reported unwanted sexual advances in the workplace.

Be an educated parent, you will have a safer teen.

Watch video and read more about this topic.