Coastal Health District helps students stand up against sexual bullying through new initiative

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — A statewide initiative led by the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) and the Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault (GNESA), is taking aim at sexual bullying among young people.

The Coastal Health District is teaming up with these organizations for the ‘Step Up Step In’ campaign to end sexual bullying. They’re partnering with two Chatham County schools to teach students to take a stand against this behavior as part of the initiative.

“There was an overwhelming amount of these acts that were taking place at school or at school-related functions,” says Antwonette Bulloch, the adolescent health and youth development coordinator for the Coastal Health District.

According to data from the GDPH and the GNESA, sexual bullying has been a prevalent issue among young people. Now, it’s not just taking place on school campuses, but also online.

“A lot of the bullying is happening online and so it’s harder for the adults to catch,” Bulloch said.

With millions of teenagers interacting on social media apps, it can be an open door to harmful behavior, Bulloch says.

Bulloch says, “spreading sexual imagery that you’ve seen on one social media site, spreading that or texting it to another student and it’s spreading around the school,” is a prevalent form of sexual bullying.

Sexual Bullying includes a wide range of inappropriate acts, such as — “sexual imagery, sexual words, to threaten, harm, embarrass or demean another youth,” says Bulloch. It can be physical, verbal or virtual.

According to experts, many students who identify as LGBTQ+, experience sexual bullying.

“Sexual harassment falls in that category, online bullying falls into that category. The touching and the groping, the snapping of bras,” Bulloch says.

Now, the Coastal Health District Youth and Development Program is partnering with some local high schools to end sexual bullying through the Step Up Step In campaign.

They’re teaching students and staff to recognize, prevent and stand up against bullying.

“Both the students as well as the staff are taking a pledge to say ‘hey, we see that this is happening, we now know this is a problem in our Georgia schools and we’re not allowing that to happen here in this school,” Bulloch says.

For school resources and more information on the Step Up Step In initiative, click or tap here.

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