Sexual Harassment: A Growing Problem

Sexual harassment is one of the biggest problems facing our businesses today. A week rarely goes by without a reminder of the commonness of sexual harassment as a social problem. Sexual harassment is a growing problem in the government agencies, schools, and the corporations of the world.

The definition of sexual harassment is any unwanted or inappropriate sexual attention. That includes touching, looks, comments, or gestures. An essential part of sexual harassment is that it is one-sided and unwanted. There is a great difference between sexual harassment and romance or friendship since those are mutual feelings of two people. Often sexual harassment makes the victim feel guilty, but it is important for the victim to remember that it is not their fault. The fault lies totally on the person who is the harasser. Many times fear is involved in sexual harassment because it is not about physical attraction; it is about power. In fact, many sexual harassment incidents take place when one person is in a position of power over the other; or when a woman has an untraditional job such as a police officer, factory worker, business executive, or any other traditionally male job. Typical victims of harassment are young, single, college-educated, members of a minority racial or ethnic group, in a trainee position, or have an immediate supervisor of the opposite sex.

Presently, it is hard for courts and others to decide when sexual harassment has taken place because the definition of sexual harassment is much too broad. Clearing up the legal definition of sexual harassment would discourage and punish harassers and bring comfort to the victims. Here are some points to remember in deciding when sexual harassment takes place: Sexual harassment is one-sided and unwelcome. It is about power and not attraction. It happens repeatedly. It gets worse. Subtle sexual behavior is sometimes socially acceptable, but some would consider it offensive and want it stopped.

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