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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

GEORGIA: Address Sex Behavior Early On


Atlanta Journal-Constitution (04.13.12) - Tuesday, April 17,

"It's just a joke. He's just playing. She's being funny. He's flirting. She wants the attention.

"Time and again we hear these misguided perceptions of sexual harassment that occurs between adolescents and teens - a broad category of behavior that includes unwanted touching and groping, sharing lewd images, and spreading sexually charged rumors about classmates.

"While the behavior doesn't always lead to more extreme forms of sexual violence, it can overlap with bullying and be so subtle that adults may not even detect it. ... Nationally, nearly half of seventh- through 12th-grade students experienced some form of sexual harassment electronically or in-person during the 2010-11 school year.

"The same study found perpetrators often thought they were being funny. Their actions, however, affected their victims' study habits, fueled their reluctance to attend school, and even drove feelings of physical illness.

"Gov. Nathan Deal has signed a proclamation designating April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Georgia. ... With one in six Georgia girls and women between the ages of 15 and 44 having been forced to have sex against their will at least once in their lifetime, this month serves as a crucial moment in elevating awareness and understanding about sexual assault, and the more subtle behaviors that can lead to it. ... Seventy-two percent of sexual assault assailants in Georgia, for example, knew their victims as acquaintances, family members, spouses, boyfriends or friends. ...

"Communities can play a role in teaching adolescents and teens about the parameters of behavior that occur within healthy relationships and correcting offensive behavior early.

"The messages to our youth can be simple: Stop touching and groping others. Stop gossiping about sexual acts. Stop spreading rumors about someone's perceived sexual orientation. Stop sending lewd messages to others.

"It's not funny, and the behavior is not tolerated in our school, in our household or in our community." The author is CEO of the Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault.


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Information in this article was accurate in April 17, 2012. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.