Led by the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault (GNESA), Step Up Step In is collaborative movement that engages schools, youth serving organizations, and communities to identify and stop sexual bullying from occurring between youth. The goal is to stop the potential for escalating sexual violence.
Step Up Step In provides schools/organizations with a Toolkit and prepared resources to help them implement the campaign. Schools/organizations are also encouraged to activate Step Up Step In however they feel will best motivate the students and communities they serve. The Toolkit and Resources are available for review and download at GASUSI.org.
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.”
Sexual bullying includes a broad category of behavior, like unwanted touching and groping, sexting, spreading sexually charged rumors, picking on someone for his or her perceived sexual orientation and more. Examples are as follows. This is not an exhaustive list of behaviors:
They are not the same, but there is overlap between the two. Sexual bullying includes behavior that is typically considered to be sexual harassment.
Funded by a grant from the Georgia Department of Public Health, GNESA began examining sexual bullying among Georgia’s youth in 2010, conducting 22 focus groups with adolescent males (11 to 14 years old) and the adults who influence them. From rural and urban communities to those in between, findings found, in part:
Yes, Step Up Step In has been developed as a youth-centered campaign that brings the issues of sexual bullying and prevention to schools, youth serving organizations, and communities in a straightforward but age-appropriate manner.
No, at this time, middle schools, high schools and other youth serving organizations can implement Step Up Step In. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in hearing about partners currently implementing this work or if you interested in signing up.
Visit GASUSI.org for more information about the campaign, as well as resources that schools/organizations can utilize to implement Step Up Step In to stop sexual bullying.