We've all heard a lot about bullying. But did you know that in high school (and middle school), some bullies use sexual messages or actions to make a person feel intimidated, small, or uncomfortable? This sexualized type of bullying is called sexual harassment or sexual bullying.
What Behaviors Count: Some images, jokes, language, and contact are called "inappropriate" for a reason. If a behavior or interaction makes you uncomfortable or upset, talk to a trusted adult. It may fall into the sexual harassment or bullying category.
What Are Sexual Bullying and Harassment?
Just like other kinds of bullying, sexual bullying involves comments, gestures, actions, or attention that is intended to hurt, offend, or intimidate another person. With sexual bullying, the focus is on things like a person's appearance, body parts, or sexual orientation. Sexual bullying includes spreading gossip or rumors of a sexual nature.
Sexual bullying or harassment may be verbal (like making rude comments to or about someone), but it doesn't have to be spoken. Bullies may use technology to harass someone sexually (like sending inappropriate text messages or videos). Sometimes harassment and bullying can even get physical.
Sexual harassment or bullying can include:
making sexual jokes, comments, or gestures to or about someone
spreading sexual rumors (in person, by text, or online) - sexual rumors include gossiping about someone's sexual preferences, for example saying someone is gay or lesbian when they are not, or vice vesa, saying someone is straight when they are not
writing sexual messages about people on bathroom stalls or in other public places
showing someone inappropriate sexual videos or pictures
posting sexual comments, pictures, or videos on social networks like Facebook, or sending explicit text messages
making sexual comments or offers while pretending to be someone else online
touching, grabbing, or pinching someone in a deliberately sexual way
pulling at someone's clothing and brushing up against them in a purposefully sexual way
Today I had the pleasure of attending our Area Toastmasters competition. I was a Counter and Sergeants-at-Arms, and enjoyed sitting back to watch my fellow Toastmasters compete. It was delightful.
One speech really hit home with me ... it actually brought me to tears. Perhaps it's due to me working so closely with different schools, families, children and youth, community groups and organizations on the very matter he spoke about so I understand the personal tragedy individuals, families and administration face.
My fellow Toastmaster gave a very moving speech on the impacts of bullying and cyber bullying in story telling format. He recounted the real life events of the death of his nephew, who took his own life, as a result of severe bullying and cyber bullying.
This handsome, talented, intelligent, creative young man was just two weeks away from graduating from high school ... a young man with a promising future. It broke my heart to hear his story. I fought to hold back the tears, however, the story was so moving I eventually felt the sting of tears in my eyes that spilled out and rolled down my face.
As my fellow Toastmaster shared his story, I thought of the many parents, children, youth and school administrators I have spoken with over the years, but more so in recent years as a result of the work I am doing in Cyber Safety, Internet Safety and Digital Footprints. In all cases, it boils down to one thing .... Bullying hurts ... Cyber Bullying makes it ten times worse because of how public the bashing and humiliation becomes and there is no escape. Recently, I gave a Cyber Safety presentation to PEI Service Providers. The participants included Executive Directors and front line staff working in crises centres, women centres, people with disabilities. When speaking about Cyber Bullying, it was interesting to hear the workshop participants share they see a resounding number of adults, more so than children and youth, committing the acts of Cyber Bullying and Internet Defamation. It was also interesting, yet not surprising, to learn some organizations and specific individuals working within them, are Cyber Bullied by outspoken individuals and organizations. When asked the nature of attack, whether it is personal or professional, they said it was more professional, stating people reacting to the work they do on social issues, social justice and serving the needs of the public. This leads to me sharing a key message with all adult audiences: Yes, bullying and cyber bullying are prevalent amongst children and youth ... however ... take a good look .... how are you, your friends and social media connections setting the tone of behavior online? Do you ever bash brands, politicians, organizations or even individuals for that matter with derogatory comments? Do you re-post pictures and links to articles that are malicious and condescending in nature? Do you tweet or post negative comments, then ask others to contribute? Once you tweeted or posted something, have you ever asked yourself this question: `If my comments were made about me by another person or entity, would I be embarrassed, hurt or humiliated if someone talked about me in this manner?' As adults, we need to set the tone of behavior and be positive role models on using the Internet and Social Media for good. There is nothing wrong with advocating for change or speaking up on matters that are important ... we just have to do it in a respectful manner, otherwise, we commit the act of cyber bullying and internet defamation ... others will model that behavior including children and youth. Change starts with each of us on an individual basis. If we want respect we must give it. If we want children and youth to act accordingly online, then we as adults, must do the same. Many people talk the talk ... but fail to walk the talk. Be a Digital Leader, Be a Good Role Model, Demonstrate Appropriate Use of Social Media and the Internet. Going back to my fellow Toastmaster, while his story was tragic with a very devastating outcome, I was blessed by his message and hold him in very high regard to have the courage and confidence to advocate for change. More needs to be done in addressing the very real issues children, youth and adults face with bullying and cyber bullying. I stand along side of him in raising the awareness and championing his cause.
About The Author:Nancy
Beth Guptill is an Entrepreneur
& Small Business Owner, Founder of Sweet Spot Marketing Canada
and a Motivational Speaker for Women & Girl Leadership.
As an Internet and Digital Marketing veteran, Nancy Beth has vast
experience in Online Internet Safety and Protecting Your Digital
2010, Nancy Beth has been highly sought after to share her message
on being a Digital Leader, using the Internet & Social Media for
good, and how to safely navigate the Social Web.
Since 2010, I have been working with two amazing organizations, one is a non-profit, the other a private business. The work we have been doing is very important, relevant and exceptionally rewarding. We are working on projects that make a significant difference in the lives of others.
Through the different projects I have been privileged to work on, I have been exposed to some very interesting trends and social issues which are pretty important for people to understand. My knowledge base has been expanded, and I feel it very important to start sharing some of the information and experiences I have had through being involved with these projects.
The projects include:
Gender Diversity in the Technological Workplace
Women On The Move - Job re-entry program
Live Your Dreams, Love Your Life
Women & Wellness
Girls & Social Media
Girls & Their Online Behavior
Protecting Our Children Online
I am just getting started with this blog, and have created a main website under my own name Nancy Beth Guptill. Feel free to comment on my blog posts, include your thoughts, perceptions and feedback.