Posted On: September 14, 2023

Types of Sexual Harassment: Understanding What It Is and How to Prevent It

Sexual harassment is a serious problem that affects people from all walks of life. It is an unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that can occur in the workplace, school, or any other setting. Sexual harassment can take many forms, and it is important to understand what constitutes sexual harassment in order to prevent it.

What is Sexual Harassment?

The United Nations defines sexual harassment as "any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that might reasonably be expected or be perceived to cause offence or humiliation, when such conduct interferes with work, is made a condition of employment or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment." It is a form of gender-based violence that involves unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other behaviors of a sexual nature that can make a person feel uncomfortable, intimidated, or threatened. It is a violation of a person's dignity and can have a profound impact on their mental health, physical well-being, and professional or academic prospects. Sexual harassment can take many forms, from unwanted touching or sexual advances to offensive comments or gestures.

The Impact of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment can have a range of negative effects on those who experience it, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health conditions. It can also lead to physical symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, and sleep disturbances. Moreover, sexual harassment can affect a person's ability to perform their job or academic duties effectively, leading to decreased productivity, missed opportunities for advancement, and even job loss.

Two Types of Sexual Harassment

There are two main types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment sexual harassment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when an employer, supervisor, or other authority figure demands sexual favors in exchange for employment, promotions, or other benefits. Hostile work environment sexual harassment occurs when an employee is subjected to unwelcome sexual conduct that creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive work environment. This can include sexual comments, gestures, or images, as well as physical contact or stalking.

Examples of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment can take many forms, and it is important to understand what behavior is considered sexual harassment. Examples of sexual harassment include:

  • Unwanted physical contact, such as touching, hugging, or kissing
  • Sexual comments or jokes, whether made in person or online
  • Requests for sexual favors in exchange for job opportunities, promotions, or other benefits
  • Displaying sexually suggestive materials in the workplace or educational environment
  • Sexual advances or propositions
  • Making sexual gestures or facial expressions
  • Making unwanted sexual comments about a person's clothing, body, or personal life
  • Spreading rumors or making derogatory comments about a person's sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Stalking or following a person in a sexual or romantic manner

Preventing Sexual Harassment

Preventing sexual harassment requires a multifaceted approach that involves education, training, and policy changes. Employers and educational institutions can provide sexual harassment training programs to their employees or students to educate them on what constitutes sexual harassment, how to report it, and how to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Organizations can also create policies that prohibit sexual harassment and establish clear procedures for reporting and investigating allegations of sexual harassment.

Moreover, preventing sexual harassment requires a cultural shift towards greater respect and inclusivity. This can involve challenging harmful gender stereotypes and promoting diversity and equality in the workplace and other settings. By fostering a culture of respect and zero tolerance for sexual harassment, we can create a safer and more supportive environment for everyone.

Selecting a Sexual Harassment Training Program

Sexual harassment training is an essential tool for creating a safer, more inclusive, and more productive workplace. When choosing a sexual harassment training provider, it is important to consider several factors to ensure that you select a program that meets your needs. Look for a training provider that has a proven track record in delivering effective and engaging sexual harassment training. Consider the training format and whether it is convenient and accessible for your employees. Additionally, look for a provider that offers ongoing support and resources, such as reporting tools and additional courses related to workplace safety.

While there are many options, 360training's sexual harassment training programs offer numerous benefits for employers and employees. These comprehensive training programs provide a thorough understanding of what constitutes sexual harassment, the negative impact it can have, and how to prevent it. The training helps employers establish a safer and more respectful workplace environment, which can lead to increased productivity, improved employee morale, and reduced legal liability. Moreover, employees who participate in this training can feel more confident in identifying and reporting instances of sexual harassment, which can help to prevent it from occurring in the future.


Sexual harassment is a serious problem that can have a lasting impact on those who experience it. It is important to understand what constitutes sexual harassment and to take steps to prevent it from occurring in the workplace, school, or other settings. By providing sexual harassment training programs and creating a culture of respect and inclusivity, we can work towards a world free from sexual harassment. If you experience sexual harassment, it is important to report it to your employer or to seek help from a professional organization such as RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). Remember, no one deserves to be sexually harassed, and it is never your fault.

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