Even if you cannot find this episode on your local PBS station, I suggest checking out all the links provided along with the description of this episode. A preview is available now and the entire episode may be available at some point.
A shocking statistic—teenagers are in more danger from sexual predators at their part time jobs than through the Internet. According to one estimate, 200,000 teenagers are assaulted at the workplace each year. It's a vastly underreported phenomenon, but some brave young women are stepping up publicly to tell their stories.
This week, NOW collaborates with the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University to bring you an unprecedented broadcast investigation of teen sexual harassment in the workplace.
In the program, abused teenagers share their own stories with Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojosa. We track their legal journeys to justice, and how the issue impacts hundreds of thousands of teenagers across the country—many of whom don't know how to report workplace abuse, or to even recognize when their bosses cross the line.
I was sexually harassed and inappropriately touched on the job by my boss as a teen when I worked at a gas station that primarily hired teenage girls. My boss definitely didn't think what he was doing was wrong and at that time his initial boundary violations were dismissed by coworkers as all talk. I don't know if it was the stress or the fact that I worked at that job after I was raped, but whenever I have thought about my work history when filling out an employment application, that job never enters my thoughts. This is the first time I've thought about that job in decades.
Thankfully, that's the only time when this has happened to me.
This type of violence illustrates why lectures to avoid unsafe areas (even when an area is suffering from epidemic levels of violent crime) aren't sufficient or effective prevention. Violence can and does happen in every type of location which means that the solution is not to restrict potential victims but to deal with the full scope of the how and why the abusive/violent person chooses to harm others.
In some cases which are called sexual harassment what is really going on is an attempted sexual assault where bosses and coworkers use the commitments employees make to stay on the job, and the employee's economic needs, as tools to gain unwanted sexual contact.
Too often victims are blamed if they cannot find a way to fend off harassment or stop harassment from escalating into sexual assault. This is not only wrong it works against genuine prevention because it helps offenders shift the responsibility for their actions onto their victims.
If someone has to use leverage of any type to get compliance for what that person wants then it is certain that what that person is getting is not genuine consent because if there were genuine consent then leverage would not be required.
The importance of this type of show goes beyond causing teens and parents of teens to be afraid.
This type of show can highlight appropriate boundaries so offenders and potential offenders cannot rationalize away the hostile environment they are creating or maintaining. If abusive tactics are removed from the list of actions assumed to be acceptable then those who have been tempted to use these actions will start learning non-abusive tactics in their interactions. And they will learn when certain people they work with are completely off-limits.