An Instructional Program For Adolescent Activities

How to Recognize and Stop Sexual Harassment


How To Recognize and Stop Sexual Harassment is designed for use in middle schools or high schools, grades 6-12. It is appropriate as part of a course in social science, sociology, cultural awareness, vocational education, work study, human sexuality, current events, adult roles, etc. It can also be used in churches, community groups or other youth groups where sexual harassment of teens is a concern.

The information was developed into the module format as a way to share resources and activities which provide young people a safe, supervised opportunity to examine their attitudes and behaviors regarding gender roles and sexual flirtation. Most of this information has come with permission from the two comprehensive curriculums listed below and from HiTOPS (Health Interested TEENS' Own Program on Sexuality), Princeton Center for Leadership Training, Bonnie Parker, Executive Director, 21 Wiggins Street, Princeton, N.J. 08540 (See Appendix H for Additional Resources.)

Project RAP Relationships And Power (1995) - A curriculum for students in grades 6-8, exploring power and control in relationships.

Cost $30.00
For ordering information contact:
New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women
2620 White Horse Hamilton Sq. Rd.
Trenton, New Jersey 08690-2718
Fax (609) 584-2718

Sexual Harassment and Teens by Susan Strauss (1992)

Cost $17.95
For ordering information contact:
Free Spirit Publishing, Inc.
400 First Avenue North, Suite 616
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401
Phone (612) 338-2068

While sexual harassment in the schools is wide-spread, until very recently most schools did not even recognize it as an issue. According to an article by Nan D. Stein of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, sexual harassment is "pervasive in all school districts, urban and rural" and it often "takes on racial overtones."

Activities about in-school sexual harassment are mostly focused on student-to-student incidents, because these occur more frequently than staff-to-student incidents. However, early reporting of all incidents is encouraged regardless of the offender. Such early reporting allows administrators and guidance counselors to intervene in instances of "confused signals" between students and staff to clarify the situation. In cases of actual problems, early intervention can prevent an escalation of the situation.

The information in this module is not about pointing fingers, instilling guilt, or labeling people. It is about addressing and solving any sexual harassment problems that may exist in your school or organization, putting an end to recurring problems, and creating a climate in which sexual harassment is unacceptable because it hurts people and because it is illegal. It is important to address this issue as a problem affecting students and adults, and as a social issue to be discussed in the classroom.



A classroom size group (20 - 35) of both boys and girls works well. The discussions and activities can also be adapted to larger or smaller groups.



Any topic related to sex or sexuality has the potential to awaken strong personal feelings. Before you begin you may need to take time to assess your own attitudes and expectations of teens and gender biases. Are you comfortable with the topic of sexual harassment and can you deal with it in an open, non-threatening way? Be sure to review background materials and consider asking a school nurse, counselor, or health educator to serve as a consultant or advisor, or to be your teaching partner.

You also may want to invite teens to teach with you. When you invite teens to share the power and the responsibility of teaching you are sending a message that this isn't just another class, but one in which their input is valued and even essential for the success of the program. If you involve students in the teaching process, be sure that they are chosen carefully and are well prepared to present the program with you. A good resource for how to involve teens as teachers is Sexual Harassment and Teens by Susan Strauss (listed above).

The activities in the module stimulate discussion of a number of related topics such as sexual pressure on dates, other forms of sex discrimination, and violence. Of course, topics discussed will depend on how comfortable students feel with one another, what kind of class it is, and what the teacher is willing to pursue with students. It is important to be aware of emotional responses that might result from the activities and to follow up with discussions that address the needs of the group.


When introducing the topic, allow time for discussion of the many emotions the topic may elicit. Tell the students that humor, laughter, and jokes are welcomed, but not at someone else's expense. Ask them what they need to agree on as a group in order to feel safe talking about sexual harassment. Work together to establish mutually agreed upon guidelines for class discussion. Record and post these group agreements so they can be referred to in order to maintain a safe learning environment. For example:

Be sure to include in the introduction of the module the reasons you feel it is important to be addressing this issue and include the following: