What To Do if You’re Being Sexually Harassed at School

A school should be a safe and conducive environment for learning – not a place that exposes students or children to unwelcome words, behaviors and actions of a sexual nature. Unfortunately, school sexual abuse and harassment are common issues. School sexual harassment can take the form of sexual comments or jokes, bullying based on your gender, sexual advances by teachers or other students, and sexual touching without your consent. If you experience any form of sexual harassment at school, take the following steps.

Tell an Adult

As a victim of sexual harassment, abuse or bullying while at school or participating in a school-related event, including sports or a field trip, tell an adult right away. Report the incident to a teacher or guidance counselor at your school without delay. You should also tell your parents or a trusted adult outside of school.

Address the Harasser

If you feel comfortable doing so, address the harasser directly about his or her actions. The individual may not realize that his or her actions meet the definition of child sexual harassment or sexual hazing, or doesn’t realize that it bothers you. Telling the person to stop may be enough to resolve the problem and put an end to inappropriate behavior.

Read the School’s Sexual Harassment Policy

Title IX of the Education Amendment protects students from discrimination based on sex in school. Your school should have resources in place for students who experience discrimination or harassment. Go to a guidance counselor or the front office to request a copy of the sexual harassment policy. It may also be available online on your school’s website. Understanding your rights under your school’s sexual harassment policy can help you feel more empowered to come forward and report a perpetrator.

File an Official Complaint

In the event that school administrators fail to take your report seriously or remedy the situation, file a complaint with the Department of Education to seek additional help. The Department can investigate the situation and take remedial action as necessary – both against the harasser and the school.

Get the Help That You Need

Experiencing any form of sexual harassment, abuse, violence, discrimination or bullying at your school can have a major effect on your mental health. Do not keep your feelings inside. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, counselor or therapist about the incident and how it made you feel. There are healthy coping mechanisms to help you process what happened and move forward. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone in person, there are 24-hour sexual harassment hotlines and virtual chats with professionals who can help.

What To Do as a Bystander

If you noticed sexual harassment at your school as a witness or bystander rather than the victim, take steps to intervene. Speak out against harassment and bullying. Go with the victim to report the incident to an adult or teacher. Give your version of events as a witness to support the victim’s claims. Then, offer your support to the victim. Remind them that the harassment wasn’t their fault and that you are here to help.

Request a Free Consultation With a Sexual Harassment Attorney

If school sexual harassment or abuse has negatively impacted you, such as through a physical injury, mental health condition, self-harm behaviors, the need for medication or medical care (including psychological therapy), or poor performance in school, you and your family may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the school for failing to protect you. A successful lawsuit could create a safer learning environment for future students, as well as provide financial compensation for your losses.

It is up to you to take the first step toward bringing an end to sexual harassment at your school. Coming forward can protect yourself and others from sexual harassment or abuse. If you would like to learn more about your legal rights as a survivor of school sexual harassment, consult with a Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney at Manly, Stewart & Finaldi. We are renowned sexual harassment and abuse lawyers who can help you find a way forward. Initial consultations are free and 100-percent confidential.