If you’re not sure whether or not the unwanted behavior or advancements you’re dealing with at school constitute sexual harassment, then all you really need to do is ask yourself one very important question. Is the behavior in question sexual or flirtatious in nature, is it unwanted, and does it personally make you feel uncomfortable? If the answer is yes, then you’re dealing with sexual harassment.
It doesn’t matter whether the harassment you’re dealing with is coming from teachers, school employees, or fellow students. This isn’t something you need to take lying down.
1. Find out if other people are being victimized.
If you’re being sexually harassed at school, then the chances are excellent that you aren’t the only one. If you know of other victims, it’s a good idea to talk to them about what’s been happening and propose taking action as a group. Often, several voices are better than one when it comes to stopping situations like these.
2. Confront the harasser.
When it comes to sexual harassment, it’s important to make sure the perpetrator knows that the behavior is unwelcome and that you’re insistent that it stop. This should be done even if you’re not sure you’re being sexually harassed. Don’t wait either. Say something to the person as soon after the incident in question as possible and be firm in regards to how you do it.
It’s also a good idea to perform this step in front of witnesses.
3. Build a written record.
From the minute you even suspect you’re being sexually harassed, it’s important to begin building a written record of all the incidents in question. Record what happened, as well as where and when. Also make notes in regards to who (if anyone) saw it happen. You should also keep a strict record of any and all attempts you or other victims make to approach the perpetrator and express that the behavior is unwanted and that you are insisting it stop.
4. Ask authority figures for help.
Your school is full of authority figures that are there to help you if you’re in trouble or dealing with anything that is making your educational environment hostile in any way. If your school has one, inform the sexual harassment officer of what’s going on. Barring that particular option, you can speak to anyone in a position of any kind of authority at your school. Your guidance counselor, the school nurse, a coach, a teacher, or any other faculty member qualifies.
It’s also a great idea to speak with more than one of these authority figures and ask them to make a record of the fact that you came to speak with them.
5. Speak to a sexual harassment attorney.
It’s important to understand that you can speak with a sexual harassment attorney about your options at any point during this process, especially if you’re uncertain as to what the next logical course of action should be. Most attorneys – including those who specialize in sexual harassment – offer potential clients an initial consultation free of charge. They’ll listen to the details of your situation and give you some good, solid advice as to how to proceed next.
If the sexual harassment problem at your school does not stop, it’s important to understand that it isn’t something you need to just live with. These are matters that are taken extremely seriously in the eyes of the law. With an attorney’s help, it’s possible to sue for sexual harassment and improve the educational environment, not only for you, but for other potential victims as well.
Guest Author: Marcelo Diego of the Diefer Law Group, P.C. offers information on sexual harassment lawyers and employment lawyers in Los Angeles.