Help Define Bullying

IDevice Icon Flirting or Hurting

By defining the differences between "flirting" and "hurting" you can help students define bullying and help them to avoid harassing in their school.

Flirting occurs when someone communicates in a way that is just part of hanging out or trying to get to know someone. Sexual harassment is when someone communicates in a sexual way that is unwanted and unwelcome by the target and interferes with the person's life at school.

Sexual harassment can be committed by guys against girls, by guys against guys, by girls against girls, or by girls against guys.

Even though many may not experience sexual harassment, most will, at some point, witness it.

Look at this chart. The three columns represent three types of communication--verbal or written, gestures, and physical. Verbal or written are things that you observe students saying or writing. Gestures are what you observe the students using to communicate without words, speaking or touching. The physical ways of communicating involve touching of some sort. The chart contains examples of each.

Flirting or Hurting?
Verbal or written


Harassment Flirting
Harassment Flirting Harassment
You look nice.   winking
grabbing own crotch
patting on back
I like your hair today
Nice ass.
blowing a kiss
Depends on tone of voice, how they look at you, who else is around.
Depends on whether friend or stranger, age, in public or private
Depends on whether friend or stranger, location, how much . . .


You can come up with examples of behavior that can be both flirting and harassment depending on the situation.

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