Sexual Harassment and Violence Fact Sheet
Two years ago, Girls Inc. surveyed our entire network of girls to better understand the issues they face. Their number one issue of concern: bullying, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. On October 15th, Girls Inc. launches a new national campaign called #GirlsToo, on the one-year anniversary of the date when the #MeToo hashtag went viral and exploded into American culture. The campaign will focus on sexual harassment and assault in the lives of youth, particularly girls, with actions aimed at addressing the norms and stereotypes that fuel these behaviors.
Alarmingly, 7 in 10 girls are sexually harassed by the time they leave high school. A recently released survey of young girls between the ages of 14 and 19 found that 3 out of 4 girls feel unsafe at least once and while. The majority also said they hear boys making sexual comments at least several times a week.
Locally, Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara and Girls Inc. of Carpinteria are encouraging youth, adults and leaders to take the #GirlsToo Pledge and advocate for a more equitable society that values and promotes the dignity of girls and all young people. In addition, the campaign will also provide resources for girls, boys, parents and educators about how to discuss these issues and make changes in their lives and communities.
Sexual harassment and violence is an epidemic facing adults, but the problem starts at a much younger age. The #GirlsToo campaign will focus on building a culture of respect for girls today and generations to come.
Barbara Ben-Horin, CEO of Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara
From an early age, young people receive limiting and harmful messages about how girls and boys should behave and be treated, which creates an imbalance of power that disproportionately affects girls of color, LGBTQ+ youth, girls with disabilities and girls from low-income communities. These norms and stereotypes follow them into adulthood and perpetuate attitudes and behaviors that can harm young girls and women alike.
Girls Inc. believes we must unite to shift deeply entrenched norms, stop the sexual harassment and violence that girls face, and create a healthier, safer culture for all young people. Changing norms around sexual violence is possible, but it requires participation and commitment from everyone. There are concrete, tangible actions individuals can take to make a positive difference and create a culture of respect for girls and all young people, such as:
● Reflect – Reflect on your own biases and challenge gender stereotypes
● Educate – Educate youth about healthy relationships and consent
● Support – Support and believe survivors who come forward
● Promote – Promote policies and practices that foster a safe school climate
● Encourage – Encourage youth leadership and involvement in change
● Call Out – Call out words and actions that demean women and girls
● Take Action – Be an “upstander” and intervene to prevent harm
Girls Inc., along with its powerful network of girls and partners, will champion this change in the communities they serve and put forward solutions to prevent sexual harassment and violence and promote respect for girls. Learn more and sign the #GirlsToo pledge now.