A New Study Shows Teenagers Could Be More Likely Than Adults To Face Sexual Harassment At Work


Sexual harassment is never okay. Source: Shutterstock.com

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!


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  • JustDMarie

    I’m only 13, and my friend peer pressured me into going back to my Ex. WORST MISTAKE EVER!!!! so lets see… I started “dating” him (You apparently become BF/GF when someone asks you out… IDK, stupid right..) and about 2 minutes later, he pushes me up against the wall and kisses me right in front of my friends, right. on. the. lips. My first kiss… ruined! i don’t count it as that tho. Anyways, his excuse is that he was “trying to see my face”….. yeah right.
    So I was in so much shock, i just stood there like a statue.
    During Gym, which was right after lunch (yeah, it happened AT SCHOOL, AT LUNCH) and I was crying soooo much… I had to go to the counseller. I ended up getting my (now ex) BFF to break up with him for me… I hate him not…. and now… He’s going after my other BFF….. it’s so f-ing annoying!
    Wow…. this comment Really makes me seem like a Drama queen, and the people at my school that hate me XD

  • DaynaMarie

    I started my first job (fast food) at the beginning of this past summer. I have not worked there very long (I am seasonal, so over summer and the past couple of weeks when I have been home for Christmas) but have not experienced any sexual harassment. During my orientation the manager I was working with specifically spoke about sexual harassment and made it clear that if anything happened I could and should talk to her and get a report filed.

  • Bobbie

    I had a major issue with this when I did an internship when I was 15. Of course I’d never heard anything about sexual harassment beyond “I’ll give you X if you do Y for me” which wasn’t going on. I was having this guy who was at lease 7 years older then me flirt to me to the point he/we messed up important assignments. Girls Speak Up! I didn’t and walked away from a great internship that still hunts me in college. If I had spoken up I’m sure I wouldn’t of left.