In recent years, government organizations, nonprofits, celebrities, and others have caught the media’s attention with their work to end bullying. As technology progresses, bullying continues to be a significant threat for today’s youth.
As the public continues to learn more and speak out against bullying, we want to shed light on a specific type of this harassment: sexual bullying.
WHAT IT IS:
Sexual bullying occurs anytime a child uses fear, coercion, or force to engage in any sexual behavior, including touching another’s genitalia, mimicking intercourse, or body part exposure.
Sexual bullying is a form of child sexual abuse. In fact, 40% of child sexual abusers are youths who are older or more powerful than their victims, and preteen-aged children are the most likely to sexually abuse.
HOW IT HAPPENS:
Sexual bullying can happen both one-on-one or in group settings. It can be carried out to a person’s face, behind their back, or through the use of technology.
Cyberbullying can involve sexual aggression, including threats, humiliation, and sharing of inappropriate images and photos. Cyberbullying can happen at any time, and has no geographic boundaries. One example is the recent #jadapose incident where photos of an unconscious teen spawned a viral meme on Twitter.
WHO IT INVOLVES:
Sexual bullying happens to both boys and girls, and can involve children as young as 5 or 6 years old.
It is not always easy to identify every child involved in sexual bullying as either a “victim” or a “bully.” In a study conducted with 700 fifth grade students, 14% were self-reported bullies, 12% were self-reported victims, and 8% were self-reported bully-victims, meaning that they both acted aggressively towards others and were bullied.
Additionally, many youths who are involved in bullying have also experienced some form of abuse outside of school, such as domestic abuse, sexual abuse, or child maltreatment and neglect.
It is important to remember that sexual bullying can take the form of both emotional and physical abuse.
Victims of emotional sexual bullying are subject to any verbal abuse meant to degrade their sexuality or gender – words like “slut,” “whore,” or “gay” are common examples. Unfortunately, these terms are increasingly being used in the media and amongst groups of young people in a joking manner, which can make it difficult and confusing for a young person to confidently identify inappropriate behavior.
Physical sexual bullying, they are exposed to more than being tripped, pushed, hit, or kicked. These children are being physically sexually abused.
Like other forms of child sexual abuse, sexual bullying can have many long-term negative effects.
Clearly, sexual bullying is part of an extremely harmful cycle. Without proper intervention and treatment, children who are victims of sexual bullying are more likely to experience confusion, fear, or other negative consequences during their sexual development later in life.
Sexual bullying is a form of sexual abuse, and it can affect our children physically, mentally, and emotionally. Learning the facts and taking time to understand this growing issue is the first step towards creating safer environments for our children.