Preventing and Tackling Sexual Assault/Harassment


February 27, 2023

Defining Sexual Harrassment

Sexual Harrassment is an incredibly broad term and takes many forms. Sexual harrassment is defined by unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical harassment of any sexual nature. Sexual harrassment can take place anywhere and in any environment. Some examples of sexual harassment include requests for sexual favours, verbal harassment of a sexual nature, unawatned touching, sexual pressure, exposing oneself, unwanted sexually explicit photos, emails, or text messages.

The Difference Between Sexual Harassment and Assault

Sexual assault refers to sexual contact, often physical. This occurs without consent. Sexual Harassment is not always violating the law whereas, sexual assault is always a criminal act. Sexual assault includes: Rape, attempted rape, forced oral penetration, unwanted sexual touching.

What You Should Know

As a parent, sexual harassment and assault can be very challenging topics to bring up with your children/teens. However, this conversation must be had so that your children can be more protected and aware. You will need to make sure that they are aware of the laws surrounding sexual harassment/assault. Here are some key points to share with them:

1 Sexual assault/harassment can happen to anyone of any age or gender. It can be committed by any age or gender.

2 Sex without consent is sexual assault.

3 Sex that begins with consent can turn into assault.

4 Sex with an intoxicated person is assault as they cannot

consent. This is a fact that too many people do not understand. 5 Discussing another person in an explicitly sexual manner to

friends or in a chat is sexual harassment.

How to talk to your child/teen about sexual harassment/assault

1. Link Conversations

If you are talking to your child about something concerning safety, you can use this as an opportunity to bring up the subject of harassment and assault. Indeed, if your child is talking bout friends or dating you can bring up the topic in a casual, and open manner. In addition, if you are watching a T.V. show or movie where the topic comes up, use this as an opportunity to start a natural conversation. Refer back to our consent page for further advice!

2. Be open and approachable

You want your child to come to talk to you about these difficult subjects. That is why it is essential to never shut them down. Keep the conversation going and listen to what they have to say. Most importantly, ask them what they think so that they also engage with the subject and view it as less of a lecture. Let them know that they can come to you whenever. It may also help to rely on your own experiences with your children.

3. Remind Them

Remind your child about the laws surrounding consent and assault. You should also make it clear that harassment or assault is never the survivor's fault. Likewise, you must remind your child about the law. In addition, remind them to care for their friends and not just think about themselves.

4. Understand Technology

Technology plays a large role in sexual harassment and assault. That is why it is vital that you yourself understand what technology your child/teen is using. You must also make sure that your child understands that the same laws of reality also apply to the virtual. Talk to your child about cyberbullying and Internet Safety and make sure that they have private social media accounts under the age of 18.

5. Identify Inappropriate Behaviours

You want your child to understand inappropriate behaviours and warning signs so that they can protect themselves. These signs include isolation, pushing of drugs or alcohol, lack of respect, no understanding of boundaries and general feelings of being unsafe. Teach your child to always listen to their Instincts. If a situation does not feel safe, then it probably isn't. Additionally, you should inform them on what is inappropriate party behaviour such as spiking or sexual pressuring.

6. Be Equal

No matter what gender or sexuality your child is, make sure you talk to them equally about sexual harassment and assault. Sexual harassment/assault affects everyone, not just one gender.

Indictators that a teen may have been sexually assaulted

Some signs that may suggest someone has been sexually assaulted can easily be intertwined with everyday teen struggles. However, if something seems off, must trust your instincts. If you notice the following signs (but not limited to) it may be worth checking in:

  • Unusual weight gain or weight loss
  • Unhealthy eating patterns, like a loss of appetite or excessive eating
  • Signs of physical abuse, such as bruises
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or other genital infections
  • Signs of depression, such as persistent sadness, lack of energy, changes in sleep or appetite, withdrawing from normal activities, or feeling "down"
  • Anxiety or worry
  • Falling grades
  • Changes in self-care, such as paying less attention to hygiene, appearance, or fashion than they usually do
  • Self-harming behavior
  • Expressing thoughts about suicide or suicide behavior
  • Drinking or drug use

What to do if your child is sexually assaulted

It is a difficult thing to think about, but it is vital to be prepared if your child is assaulted. This is because the way that you respond is important and will effect how they recover.

1 Make sure to listen and stay calm.

2 Believe what your child is telling you.

3 Make sure they know that it is not their fault.

4 Understand where to go for help (look to our help resources


5 Look into counselling/therapy for your child if they are

comfortable with this.

6 Get your child medical care.

7 Have them write down what they remember.



Crisis Text Line

Survivors Network


Rape Crisis Network Europe Victim Connect

Rape Crisis

Book Recommendations: 

Asking For It - Kate Harding Not That Bad - Roxane Gay Learning Good consent - Cindy Crabb I Never Called it Rape - Robin Warshaw The Will to Change: Men, masculinity, and love - Bell Hooks The Macho Paradox Why some men hurt women and how all men can help - Jackson Katz Unfuck your boundaries workbook - Faith G. Harper Against Our Will Men, Women and Rape - Susan Brownmiller

Take Our Quiz to test your knowledge!


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