“Sexual bullying” is not the most common term, but it’s one that you should become familiar with if you are a parent of a teen or young adult. In fact, you should become familiar with the term for your own personal health and wellbeing. The term sexual bullying is defined as bullying committed by one person or a group of people using actions and comments that are sexual in nature. This bullying occurs both in person and online. If left alone, sexual bullying can easily turn into sexual harassment or sexual assault.
Common examples of sexual bullying
Sexual bullying happens when a person is made to feel uncomfortable due to comments, videos, cartoons, images or other language (online), as well as language or behaviors (in-person) that are deemed inappropriate. Some common examples of sexual bullying include:
- Making a sexual gesture to another person
- Making a sexual joke or comment about someone else
- Making a comment about another person’s sexual activity or sexual preference
- Spreading rumors that are sexually explicit about another person either online or in person
- Calling another person sexually explicit names
- Grabbing, pinching or touching another person in a sexual manner
- Brushing up against someone else or touching their clothes in a sexual manner
- Posting sexual videos, pictures or comments on social media accounts
- Taking part in slut-shaming
- Sending text messages or emails to another person that are sexually explicit in nature
- Forcing another person to send sexual pictures or videos of themselves to someone else
- Sending sexually explicit pictures and videos sent by a significant other to other people
Why people sexually bully others
There are a slew of reasons why people sexually bully others, including the need to improve their social status in school or at work. Other reasons include fear of their own sexual life, jealousy, and the need for attention. Even more reasons people bully others sexually include “removing the competition” for someone’s attention or affection, to reduce their own insecurity, to have a feeling of power over someone, to mimic what others are doing and to create excitement in their life.
The difference between flirting and harassment
Flirting is a longstanding tradition among people who have an affinity for each other. Maybe you laugh a little too hard at his jokes, or go out of your way to hold open doors for her. Maybe the two of you find excuses to casually brush one another arms as you pass by in the hallways, or send each other little “winky” emojis in texts. If you are both engaged in this behavior, and both enjoying this behavior, then there is no harm done. Two people who are attracted to one another, who express that attraction in myriad ways to the delight of both people, are flirting.
But when only one party is comfortable, what might seem like harmless flirting to you is actually harassment to the other person. The coworker who keeps asking you out; The neighbor who spends a little too long looking at your body; The friend of a friend who keeps touching your arms, hair, or waist; The clerk at the drug store who keeps calling you pet names; this is not flirting. These types of behaviors by one party, to the implied or expressed discomfort of the other party, are examples of harassment.
Did you go shopping one weekend before work to update your wardrobe? It’s perfectly fine if someone in the office compliments you on your new outfit. The comments turn to harassment when he or she focuses on an area of your body, and not just how good your new outfit looks.
When someone in the break room screams out a sexually-charged epithet once, because he or she dropped his or her lunch on the floor, is not engaging in sexual harassment. But if a coworker uses this language in everyday situations, or explicitly when speaking to you or to another person who is uncomfortable with this language, then it could be sexual bullying or harassment. In cases like these, the person using the language is creating a hostile work environment.
Are you the victim of sexual bullying at work or at school? Do you believe your teen or adult child has been victimized by someone with sexual comments or actions? If so, it’s time for you to contact an experienced California sexual harassment attorney about the situation. Call the trusted team of Taylor & Ring in Los Angeles today at 310-776-6390, or use our contact form, to schedule a free initial consultation.