Sexual Harassment in High School


Laya Reddy

In recent months, hundreds of men and women have spoken out against their sexual harassers. The #MeToo movement encouraged victims of sexual harassment to feel unashamed and come out with their stories. This movement has created a welcoming culture for people who felt otherwise isolated. Celebrities have set the stage for an important discussion on sexual harassment in not only the workplace, but also in school.


A 2015 report from U.S. News claims that almost 20% of girls between the ages of 14 and 17 were sexually assaulted.


It’s easy to think that sexual harassment is an issue far from home. ‘It will never happen to anyone I know,’ we all think. In reality, however, nearly 58% of 7th-12th graders experienced sexual harassment, so is it ignorant to have that  mindset? When more than half of junior high and high school students are victims of sexual harassment, it is likely to hit close to home.


Sexual harassment comes in many forms, from verbal to physical. We tend to overlook the harmfulness of words, however, and ignore catcalling as a dangerous action. Although, catcalling is sexual harassment. A discussion must start in homes and classes, educating the youth on what sexual harassment really is. Victims don’t always realize they’re being sexually harassed because the discussion never took place. They don’t know, especially in junior high and high school, that comments on their bodies are not okay, dirty jokes about them are not okay, and unwanted sexual contact is not okay. We must stop shrugging off these comments with the thought that they are harmless.


The nation has seen hundreds of men and women come out against their sexual harassers in the past few months. Victims reveal, sometimes ten years after their unwanted sexual encounter, the details regarding their harassment and attacker. ‘Why now?’ many ask. Why did these victims choose to speak out against their harassers now, when the encounter may have happened years ago? Because they were scared.


If these famous, well-off celebrities were scared to reveal their harassment, how can mere high schoolers be expected to report their encounters? We cannot put blame on the children for not speaking out sooner. We must aim to create an environment that encourages, but does not pressure, victims to come out with their stories. They have endured enough harm from their harassers, and do not deserve to be bogged down by our petty comments of blame. details the steps that high school victims should take to ensure their safety. First they must  be sure not to put blame on themselves, and clearly tell the offender that their actions are unwanted and hurtful. While this might not always be the case, the harassers may just be unaware of how dangerous their actions are, stressing the need for a discussion at home and in school. Then, the hardest, but most important, step-report the harassment. Whether is to an adult at school, a title IX officer, or a government agency, reporting the encounter is imperative if a change is to be made.


High schoolers are often victims to heinous crimes of sexual harassment. Being such a young age, it’s important for adults to educate their children and students on the actions and implications of sexual harassment. We must finally put a stop to attacks on the youth.