Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination using sexually explicit and offensive conduct, either verbal or physical. Different types of sexual harassment range from mildly offensive jokes to forcible rape. It can occur in the workplace, in school settings from elementary to college, or even at home, and affects both males and females. The primary goals of harassment of any kind are intimidation and control.
Workplace sexual harassment may include dirty jokes, sexist behavior such as winking or calling women names like "doll" or "baby," and continually asking for a date when it is clear the person is not interested. Many companies have policies against such behaviors, along with rules against interoffice dating to avoid sexual favoritism. All types of sexual harassment in the workplace carry the risk of lawsuit and termination. It is up to employers to make policies clear and provide a safe working environment, including protecting employees from any offensive behaviors exhibited by customers and vendors.
Men are less often victims, but they are also less likely to report incidents. They may fear being mocked or thought of as unmanly, since men aren't generally considered potential victims of harassment. Unwanted advances, sexual remarks, touching, and derogatory remarks about the male gender are common in sexual harassment of men. Insulting language like this on the job contributes to a hostile work environment. Males who harass other males usually do so in an attempt to embarrass and humiliate their victims.
In school settings, types of sexual harassment like being chased, physically groped and abused, or subjection to relentless name-calling can drive children to extremes, including suicide. Students have reported repeated threats and constant abuse by other students for being gay, or simply being accused of it. Their grades may drop, and they may be too afraid to enter certain areas of their schools. After a prominent lawsuit, the US Supreme Court extended the country's anti-discrimination Title IX law to protect students against peer-on-peer sexual harassment.
Dealing with sexual harassment usually means escalation to supervisory or administrative personnel. Children and adolescent victims often blame themselves for the abuse, which means they often don’t report it. For all types of sexual harassment, it is recommended to swiftly and firmly tell the harasser to stop. If the person does not, work or school policy then dictates what action to take next. Forced sexual contact is a crime and should be reported to law enforcement immediately.