Sexual harassment takes many forms
DR. WALLACE: I’m 17 and work on Friday evening and all day Saturday at a nationally well-known fast-food restaurant. I rather enjoy the work, and I love earning the money.
My only problem is my manager, who happens to be about 40 years old. He is married, and he is a father of two children, but that doesn’t stop him from making suggestive sexual remarks to me all the time.
Another girl who works with me said that I could have him arrested for sexual harassment. I don’t want him arrested — I just want him to behave himself like a gentleman, not a 40-year-old jerk.
The next time he makes suggestive remarks, I’m going to tell him that if he continues his unacceptable behavior that I will contact his wife and tell her about her husband’s conduct with me.
I want to handle this problem by myself. If I tell my parents, I would be forced to quit, and I want to continue working here. Also, my dad is a “hot head” and probably would take matters into his own hands and beat him up.
I’ve heard the phrase “sexual harassment” quite a bit lately, but I’m not exactly sure what all it refers to. I’d appreciate knowing.
Nameless, Las Vegas
NAMELESS: Sexual harassment can be either obvious or subtle. It includes unasked for and unwelcome sexual attention, remarks, noises, stares and touches. It also can involve unwanted requests or demands for sexual favors.
Sexual harassment often is the result of one person using his (or her) power to take sexual advantage of another person.
Sexual harassment is not a crime limited to the workplace, but can involve relatives, neighbors, teachers, coaches, counselors or parents of friends.
It can be physical or verbal. It can even be silent: a suggestive facial expression or an eyeing of your body.
Sexual harassment is never right, and in many cases, it’s against the law. A victim of sexual harassment has the right to take action and must never feel guilty or ashamed. The main thing to do is to get it out in the open right away and talk to someone who can help do something about it.
Telling the wife of your boss about his unacceptable behavior might result in a change in his behavior, but it could be more effective if you contacted the owner of the restaurant or the corporate office.
Your parents should be aware of your situation at work, regardless of your father’s “hot” temper.
DR. WALLACE: We were having a heated discussion in our health class about teens and smoking. The teacher asked the class this question: “Who smokes more, teenage girls or teenage boys?”
Naturally, the boys said that girls smoke more, and the girls thought more boys smoked than girls. Can you settle the debate?
Andy, Rochester, New York
ANDY: According to the American Cancer Society, 10 percent of all young people ages 12 to 17 smoke cigarettes. Girls (11.6 percent) had a higher percentage of smokers than boys (9.3 percent).
The good news is that the percentage of young smokers has decreased every year for the past 12 years. Schools, media and parents continue to emphasize that smoking is hazardous to one’s health, and the majority of teens are responding in a positive way.
Write to Dr. Wallace at email@example.com.