You may not love the job that you have as a teenager for a whole bunch of reasons — needing to wake up early, long hours, it’s just really not all that engaging for you — but I would hope that sexual harassment wouldn’t be the reason for your dissatisfaction at work because it shouldn’t even be happening. Period.
And yet, unfortunately, it does still happen, and according to a new study from Illinois State University, teens may be more likely to experience sexual harassment than the adults they work with. These researchers looked at the workplace experiences of both male and female teenagers. During a two-year period, just over half of the girls and just over a third of the boys were found to have experienced instances of sexual harassment in their workplace on at least one occasion.
Harassment was more likely to occur for those teens that held “low-opportunity jobs” (they provide restaurant and retail work as two examples), and the harassment didn’t only affect how teens felt about their current job, but the researchers behind this study predicted it could negatively impact their future academic and career experiences.
Sexual harassment can include a wide array of inappropriate behaviors and that can sometimes make identifying it sort of confusing. In addition, as the researchers pointed out in their study, as teens are often the lowest rung on the workplace ladder, that can make you stand out as more vulnerable for harassment than an adult in that same environment.
This study didn’t just stop at their findings, but made some good points about ways to use this information so that hopefully there is less of this harassment moving forward. They offered ideas for employers to implement, and also suggested that teens learn what the policies are in their workplace.
While I sincerely hope none of you experience sexual harassment at your job, I urge you to speak up if something happens that makes you uncomfortable. The researchers noted that often trying to deal with these matters on your own may not be the best course of action to maintain your health and happiness.
I’ve always found all the paperwork when you start a new job kind of overwhelming, but it’s really important you take the time to read through it. Ask any and all questions you may have about wording or reporting processes. Seriously, there are no dumb questions, and remember that those rules are in place to help protect all employees from sexual harassment — whether teen or adult, male or female. It’s something that nobody should have to experience.
Do you have a job? Have you ever faced sexual harassment at work? Have you read your company’s sexual harassment policies? Tell us about it in the comments!