Cartersville, GA: Both South Central Middle School and Woodland High School have joined a statewide campaign, led by the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault (GNESA), to stop sexual bullying from occurring between youth. The schools are partnering with the Adolescent Health and Youth Development Program through Northwest Georgia Public Health.
The campaign, called Step Up. Step In., teaches students how to spot sexual bullying and teaches them what to do when it happens. It also helps make sure they aren’t doing it to other people.
Sexual bullying can be violent or non-violent. Step Up. Step In., defines sexual bullying as “any instance when youth use sexual words, acts, images, threats or any other behavior in any manner to distress, harm, taunt, demean, humiliate and/or embarrass other youth who do not welcome, encourage or want to participate in the exchange.”
Sexual bullying may occur once or it may occur frequently. It encompasses a wide variety of behaviors and is perpetrated by youth against their peers. It can occur in person, online or digitally. In some instances, such as spreading rumors about a classmate, a victim may not even know it is occurring.
The public awareness campaign is funded by a grant from the Georgia Department of Public Health. GNESA began examining sexual bullying among Georgia’s youth in 2010, and the campaign was developed around the information gained from 22 focus groups with adolescent males (11 to 14 years old) and the adults who influence them.
“We are proud to join the Step Up. Step In, campaign and become a leader in preventing this type of behavior from distracting our students as they pursue excellence in their academics, extracurriculars and other activities,” says Dr. Melissa H Williams, Principal of Woodland High School. “Our student leaders in Bartow Youth Action and Student Council have been instrumental in this campaign.”
For more information about the campaign, as well as resources that schools and community members can utilize to implement Step Up. Step In., to stop sexual bullying, visit www.StepUpStepIn.org.
You may also contact Christa Gilmore with the Bartow County Teen Resource Center at 770-546-9510 for more information.