What Is Sexual Bullying?

Sexual bullying may not be a concept that you have heard of, but it’s one that you should learn – especially if you are the parent of a teenager or young adult. Like sexual harassment and discrimination, it refers to acts committed against a victim based on his or her sex. Sexual bullying is a dangerous behavior that can lead to severe consequences, including sexual assault, physical injuries, emotional distress and even suicide.

Defining Sexual Bullying (With Examples)

Sexual bullying is defined as an individual or a group harassing or harming a victim through actions and comments that are sexual in nature. Any form of bullying against a victim that is sexual in nature, such as bullying a victim for his or her gender, gender identity or expression, physical appearance, or relationship status, is sexual bullying. Sexual bullying can take place in person or online. Common examples of sexual bullying include:

  • Pushing, hitting or kicking a victim
  • Grabbing or touching a victim in a sexual manner
  • Posting or sharing exploitive photos of the victim
  • Cyberbullying
  • Name-calling or insulting a victim
  • Making sexual jokes or comments
  • Spreading rumors or gossip
  • Isolating or ignoring a victim
  • Ostracizing a victim
  • Shaming or humiliating a victim
  • Intimidating or threatening a victim

Sexual bullying can occur for many different reasons. The bully might wish to improve his or her own social status or feel the need to seek attention, for example. Other reasons include jealousy, fear, insecurity, going along with the crowd, fear of their own sexual desires or the desire to have power over a victim. Sexual bullying can occur at school, after-school programs, extracurricular activities, field trips, work, online and elsewhere.

Signs of Sexual Bullying

Like other types of bullying, sexual bullying does not necessarily leave a physical mark. It can refer to verbal, mental, emotional and psychological abuse, not just physical or sexual abuse. This can make it difficult to spot for parents and teachers. Some common signs of sexual bullying include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Fear of going to school
  • Reduced or increased appetite
  • Withdrawal from favorite activities or hobbies
  • A decline in school performance
  • Sudden outbursts or tantrums
  • Personality changes
  • Mood swings
  • Signs of substance use
  • Unkempt appearance
  • Low self-esteem
  • Self-harm behaviors
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

If you notice anything unusual going on with your child or a student in your care, have an open conversation with him or her. Explain that you can help and that the child is not in trouble. Be sure to treat the situation with respect and care, as sexual bullying can be painful and embarrassing. Then, report sexual bullying or harassment to the authorities. This may be the principal of a school, the school district, an employer or the police.

Remedies for Sexual Bullying in California

Once sexual bullying has been reported, the authorities should take steps to investigate the incident and take remedial action. This may mean penalizing the bully through school suspension or expulsion, as well as helping the victim cope in a healthy way, such as by offering therapy or counseling. Most schools have protocols in place for dealing with bullies. Depending on the nature of the actions committed against the victim, the bully may also face criminal charges for crimes such as sexual assault.

If the authority in question does not take the right steps to resolve sexual bullying, or if the bullying resulted in serious injuries or significant harm, contact an attorney as a parent or loved one for further assistance. The lawyers at Manly, Stewart & Finaldi in Los Angeles can help you understand your rights as a filing party. You may be entitled to financial compensation from the school, a company or someone else. Reaching out to an attorney can bring you justice for the harm you suffered because of sexual bullying at school or work. Speak to our California sexual abuse attorneys today for assistance if you’re facing sexual bullying.