What To Do When Your Teenage Daughter Is Sexually Harassed

What do you do when your teen aged daughter is being sexually harassed? Raising teens is one of the topics we dive into in our Voices of parenting series.

Raising teens can be tough and bring a whole new set of issues we were never anticipating. For more posts, please check out our Parenting Teens area

What to do when your teenage daughter is sexually harassed…I have no fucking clue.

I’ll tell you what was done and you can agree or not. Then wallow with me in the fact that some of our daughters will have to deal with this bullshit whether we like it or not. It’s there. It waited for mine and, statistically, it’ll be there for yours too.

My 14-year-old is your typical gamer, anime fan-girl, artsy type of kid. She is not flashy, flirty or “girly”. She wears over-sized clothes, mostly black (like her mAmA) and work boots most of the time. She can pretty much get through school without catcalls or ignorant remarks about what she is wearing. Until yesterday.

Yesterday was her AP English presentation. When I say she worked so hard on this project, I mean missed hanging with friends and refrained from watching YouTube videos type of “worked hard.” The topic was Greek Gods and she picked Gaia (Mother Earth). Her plan was to put together a 2 piece toga so she could draw the earth on her stomach and make a larger cape-type toga overall so she could reveal said earth. We went to the thrift store for some sheets, found a tree of life necklace and some ivy for her headpiece. She was so excited. She memorized her whole speech and could recite every word from her slideshow without needing to look. She was ready for any question her class might ask, she was ready for anything except for what happened next.

What do you do when your teen aged daughter is being sexually harassed? Raising teens is one of the topics we dive into in our Voices of parenting series.

What do you say to this? How do I take this back? I can never erase this. It’s out there in her universe now.  

In the next few texts, she told me she confronted him and he laughed in her face and walked away. She spoke to the teacher, who was unaware that he physically touched her because he had done it behind the podium where she had to step behind to change her slides. Had my daughter not had something on underneath and he got a good grasp of her skirt, she would have been standing in front of the classroom in her underwear. WHY THE FUCK DID HE THINK THAT THIS WAS HIS RIGHT?!?!?!?!

I emailed the principal and the teacher immediately from work as calmly as I could. On my lunch hour, the teacher called me and apologized profusely. She had already spoken to the principal and the student would be written up for sexual harassment. He would also have to apologize to Sophia. I told Sophia, she could accept his apology if she was so inclined, but to let him know this is NOT okay; he should NEVER touch anyone in that way again. Other people’s bodies are not for the judgement of others and certainly not to manhandle because there is some skin showing.

I was stuck at work, so my husband went to pick our girl up from school. The two of them went straight to the top. While speaking to the Principal, my husband was adamant about pressing charges, expelling the student, skinning him alive and hanging him from the flagpole in front of the school. The Principal tried to calm my husband down and he listened. But the overall feeling he got was, boys will be boys. It was at that moment, my husband told me, he saw our daughter become a woman.

Sophia leaned over in her chair, looked the Principal in the eyes and calmly said, “With all due respect to your degrees and your intelligence, it sounds to me like you are actually making excuses for this person who put their hands on my body in a way I did not ask them to. This person is on my bus every day, since middle school, and he has never acknowledged my existence. We have two classes together this year, one being gym, and he has never spoken to me at all. If you can justify the fact that the ONE time he tries to communicate with me in any way, shape or form, is the one day I am wearing a half shirt, and his method of communication is to pull my skirt down, not once, not twice but THREE times, then I will walk out of here and keep my mouth shut. If not, then you have to do something about this so no one else has to be humiliated, or worse, by him.”

I am tearing up as she dictated those words to me just now. It hurts that this is what so many young women have to put up with regularly and not just because it happened to one of mine.

Our story ends with this kid being removed from both of my daughter’s classes immediately, ISS (in school suspension) for a week and mandatory counseling, which I’m sure he’s done with by now. I called the bus company to let them know of the situation, just in case he mouths off to her. But so far, he has gone back to ignoring her, back to not acknowledging her existence at all. Our hope is that if the thought to reach out and grab someone inappropriately ever crosses his mind again, so too will the memory of my Sophia who spoke up, who did something about it and he just won’t.

He simply won’t.

Michelle (mAmA) is an old school alternative/punk originally hailing from Brooklyn, NY. She has been moderately domesticated and ‘suburbanized’ to Long Island, NY, with two amazingly talented daughters, a Rumbler husband and a sweet, lovable 125lb Doberman Babyboy.

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  1. I’m in awe of Sophia and how she was able to not only articulate herself so well in such an uncomfortable situation, but also by the fact that she knows she owns her own body (kudos to you and dad) and will do anything to defend it. Having a 14yr old myself, this brought tears to my eyes. I’m going to let her read this and hope that she would follow Sophia’s example in this situation.
    But the most important lesson to be learned in this, is that this motherfucker will hopefully think twice about this before ever touching a person again without consent.

    I’m proud of you and your husband too, for standing so firmly with her. She is amazing Michelle. A true role model and inspiration for young girls and women alike.
    While what happened to her sucks ass, I see the outcome as positive. Hugs, my friends. Xo

  2. As horrible as this story is…your daughter handled it beautifully in every way. Advocated for herself, didn’t cower to authority, understood the arc of her relationship with this kid and even was strong and sassy with her friend. I am sure that she doesn’t feel all that strong inside…but Bravo to you and your daughter for this. I am sorry and glad for all of you that you have each other’s backs…and stomachs.

  3. That’s a strong lady right there. I’m doing the very best I can to show my daughters how to speak up for themselves. I’m going to show my oldest (almost 13) this post. It’s inspiring and important. xoxox

  4. We just recently reported a student for sexual harassment. The harassment ended by the boy but it was the reaction of her peers that hurts even worse. Any advice? Sadly the lesson my daughter has taken away from this is doing what’s right isn’t the poplar choice. I don’t know that she will ever report someone again.

    • My advice would be to absolutely report again!!!! The more of us who are quiet, the more it will happen. We need to speak up every time. Tell your daughter that doing the right thing while still may not be the popular thing, it is still THE RIGHT THING!!!

  5. I can relate to your husband and proud of how your daughter handled it. Although he’s still a kid and maybe if someone gives him the right guidance, he can be better. We need better education in school and home, to teach our kids what’s wrong and what’s right; what’s funny and what’s bullying or harassment

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