How do you deal with teenage harassers?

Last week I went to my boyfriend’s apartment to meet up with him and some other people for a concert. When I arrived at his apartment about 20 minutes prior I walked past a group of teenage (probably 14 or so) kids hanging out in their school clothes. While they were noisy and joking around I didn’t pay any attention to them because they just seemed to be acting like kids who were excited to be done with school for the day.

When I walked out with everyone there were more kids across the street. Again, I didn’t pay them any mind. However, one kid started screaming “Tall glass of milk!” over and over and over again. Being that I was only one of two girls in our group and the tallest (by far) of everyone I figured this was probably directed at me. But I don’t tolerate any kind of street harassment, whether it be from a man or a boy. Normally if it’s a man in a small group or by himself and I feel safe I will address the harassment. However, I was assaulted by a group of kids two years ago and, after having lived in this city for almost five years and witnessing some really jaw-dropping stuff, have come to fear groups of kids/teenagers in this city. So, I chose to ignore the harasser. Seeing that I wasn’t going to pay attention to him he started yelling his chant louder and then began interjecting “white bitch” between his calls of “tall glass of milk.” Getting to the car felt like the longest walk I have ever taken. It shook me up, made me feel crappy and almost ended up ruining a night I’d been looking forward to for months. What was worse is that the people I was with thought the “tall glass of milk” comment was funny and didn’t even address the “white bitch” part.

Since school is now in session and I’ll probably be running into this group again, does anyone have any advice for how to deal with a group of teenage harassers?

Submitted by K on 10/4/2010

Location: Lamont St. & Georgia Ave. NW

Time of Harassment: Evening Rush Hour (3:30P-7:30P)

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault you would like to submit? Just click here and fill out the online submission form. All submissions are posted anonymously unless you specify

7 responses to “How do you deal with teenage harassers?

  1. I wonder if there is a way to find out where they go to school, and bring it to the school’s attention. Although it might seem indirect.
    I have certainly felt the exact same way when I am harassed by younger people – unsure of how strongly I should respond, fearing the mockery that has happened in the past to me when I have.

    • That is a great idea! K, if you know what school they attend, you can also let us know because we are going to be youth and young adult anti-street harassment trainings next year. We can try and reach out to their school.

  2. Disgusting. I’m sorry that happened to you. Racism combined with sexism is sickening. However, Carolyn’s idea is a great one. I’m glad Holla Back DC is going to schools to address this. Awesome!

    You know these kids don’t come out of the womb acting like this. They’re learning this behavior from either their parents or other poor role models in their lives.

  3. Thanks for the suggestions! I’ll definitely try to figure out where they go to school and keep HBDC updated. I think it just upset me because the young kids in this city just seem so unpredictable so I’m always worried that if I respond I could get mocked or much worse.

    • In the next time you are in a situation involving those boys (hoping it never happens again, though), simply say “I don’t like being called [fill in the blank]. Stop harassing women. I don’t like it, no woman likes it. Show some respect.” Sadly, they probably will mock because too many teenagers here lack respect for people (themselves included), but that’s a way of standing up for yourself without resorting to their level.

      Teens here are crazy. I’ve been physically threatened (and even attacked) by them in the past. Honestly, I’ll take being made fun of and mocked for standing up for myself over getting beaten down by them any day.

  4. With teens and younger people I occasionally use the visual “once over” where I look them up and down with my eyes like I’m summing them up and then just laugh and roll my eyes. It’s a million times more effective when there are other women with me that can laugh too. Being “assessed” and failing to “meet the standard” infuriates and insults the crap out of some of these wannabe men.

  5. also, your friends suck for thinking it was a joke. i hope you told them to go to hell.

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