Sexual Harassment – What Your Teens Need to Know
Sexual harassment is an issue that plagues people of all ages. It is troubling to think that your child might be the victim of bullying or sexual harassment, but it is an issue that often goes unreported in schools. Parents need to pay close attention to changes in their teens’ behavior and look for clues that there has been sexual harassment happening in their child’s life.
Teenage sexual harassment is of particular concern at this time due to the various and plentiful social media platforms that teens have access to. Online or cyberbullying is prevalent, as it has been reported that half of teens experience cyberbullying. Sexual harassment can be characterized by inappropriate comments, touching, actions or unwanted attention of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment in teens can happen in person or digitally through inappropriate text messages, tweets, pictures or videos.
As a parent it is important to recognize the signs that your son or daughter may have been a victim of sexual harassment. If your teen is normally a very happy and active person, and you notice that their energy levels have decreased, it might be time for a conversation about what is going on in their life. If they lose interest in things they normally get excited about such as hanging out with friends or playing sports, it could be a sign that they are experiencing bullying or harassment.
Parents should always pay attention to their child’s grades, but if you suspect your son or daughter is being harassed, talk to their teachers. It is possible a teacher may have noticed a change in them as well. A parent should also be particularly concerned if their child starts to avoid one particular friend. If you see these signs in your child, start a conversation with them. Teens often will not tell a parent if they are being sexually harassed so it is important to ask leading questions and let them know that you are a safe person to confide in.
With often unlimited access to the internet, children today are exposed to so many obscene images, misogyny, and glamorized sexual harassment. One cause of sexual harassment may be related to the media that is consumed by children at young ages, whether through tv shows, music or movies. Parents should strongly consider parental blocks on tv and computers to monitor the content their kids take in. Parents of teens should do their best to monitor the time their teens spend on the internet, and take an interest in what sites they visit. Talk to your teens when you hear something troubling on the radio or while watching tv and discuss why it’s problematic.
Another possible cause of sexual harassment has less to do with sex and more to do with power. The harasser wants to make their target feel vulnerable, and then takes advantage of that vulnerability. Teen sexual harassment is very common among girls, but it is important to note that boys can also be victims of sexual harassment. Teens are especially vulnerable already due to all the changes they go through during puberty. Anyone in a position of power, who uses that power to take advantage of someone vulnerable such as a teenager, can be guilty of sexual harassment.
If your son or daughter is being sexually harassed the first thing you need to do is speak up. Talk to the school administrators if the harassment is happening during school hours. Actions may be taken at the school that include sessions with the school therapist. Depending on how extreme the harassment has been, in-patient therapy may be the best course of action for your son or daughter. It is important to get your child to a professional to help them work through their feelings and issues in a constructive and welcoming environment. Hillcrest Adolescent Treatment Center is one such place, as it is a teen-only inpatient treatment facility that specializes in mental and behavioral health and addiction issues. The benefits of inpatient therapy include a better chance of recovery and the comfort of knowing your teen is being taken care of and supervised around the clock.
Sexual harassment happens all too often, especially among teenagers. Teens will not always speak up about harassment, so it is up to their parents to look for signs and be prepared to get help for them if needed. Hillcrest Adolescent Treatment Center offers individualized treatment plans specific to your teen’s needs. With the right help, your teen can be on the road to recovery.