Sexual harassment in schools

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, and includes things like:

  • touching or kissing someone
  • making comments or jokes of a sexual nature
  • showing or sending pornographic pictures
  • emails, texts or other messages with sexual content
  • repeated requests for dates
  • questions or comments about a person's sexual activity.

It is considered sexual harassment if this behaviour makes the other person feel scared or upset and it's reasonable for them to feel that way. 

It doesn't matter whether the behaviour was meant as harassment or as a compliment or joke. 

An example

Mike, aged 16 asked a fellow-student, Pia, out on a date, but she said no. Mike didn’t take it well and continued to make suggestive comments to Pia. When she ignored these, he started texting her, commenting on her body and sending pornographic pictures downloaded from the internet. Pia found it very offensive. This is sexual harassment.

Your rights

High schools should have a written policy for responding to sexual harassment complaints. This policy should be available for all students to read. 

If you have been sexually harassed, report it to the contact person named in the policy, or an adult at the school that you trust.

If the school does not fix the problem, you can contact us

Criminal offences

Some sexual harassment, such as touching without permission, can also be a criminal offence.

If a student over 16 sexually harasses someone (such as another student or a teacher) their behaviour is against the law. 

Sexual harassment by a teacher or school staff member is also against the law. 

The police can prosecute the offender. You must make a police report if you want police to consider prosecuting the offender.