Sexual Harassment

Approved by Council, October 1992
To be reviewed

Current events have focused national attention on sexual harassment. As the major national medical association with expertise on child and adolescent development and psychopathology, the AACAP is concerned about public statements that have minimized or denied the existence of sexual harassment.

Clinical studies have shown that it is not uncommon for victims of sexual harassment to keep quiet about these events. Not only adults, but children and adolescents experience such harassment in their school, home, or work environment.

It is common for children and adolescents to conceal these offenses because they feel afraid, ashamed, vulnerable, and humiliated. They may actually believe their own behavior may have precipitated the sexual harassment. These incidents are often not revealed for many years, if ever.

As with sexual abuse, domestic violence, and child abuse, sexual harassment can often be passed from generation as a learned behavior. Child psychiatrists can intervene through therapy to counter and reduce these behavior problems.

The AACAP recommends increased public education and support systems for victims of sexual harassment and that appropriate services be made available.