AAP addresses sexual and gender-based harassment in pediatric spaces


The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a policy statement addressing sexual and gender-based harassment in pediatric workplaces and classrooms, and advises physicians on how to tackle these issues.

In a recent policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) addressed sexual and gender-based harassment in pediatric spaces. This statement was titled, “Creating Work and Learning Environments Free of Gender-Based Harassment in Pediatric Health Care,” and was published in the September 2022 edition of Pediatrics.

In the statement, the AAP outlined actions to reduce sexual and gender-based harassment. A zero-tolerance policy toward this type of harassment was suggested, with perpetrators being reported and investigated. Clear policies were also suggested so that perpetrators may be held accountable.

The AAP recommended that training be put in place to help victims and bystanders of harassment. Also, health care staff should remember that families and caregivers may be responsible for sexual and gender-based harassment. In these instances, the AAP suggested adapting protocols to address and handle harassment from family.

When a victim comes forth to report a case of gender-based harassment, the AAP urged clinicians to support and protect them from retaliation. Victims often face microaggressions, defined by the AAP as, “everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target people based solely on their marginalized group membership.”

Julie Story Byerley, MD, MPH, FAAP, stated that individuals in medicine are not immune to the ongoing sexual and gender-based harassment present in society. She outlined the AAP’s goal of understanding how certain words can be harmful, even if they are not intentional.

Intersectionality was also discussed in the policy statement. LGBTQ individuals with marginalized racial and ethnic identities can experience bigotry in the forms of racism, homophobia, and transphobia.

“Any person, no matter their gender or race, may be subjected to a form of harassment during their career,” Byerley said. “Employers and educators can take steps to eliminate harassment. As individuals, we can examine our own biases and behaviors, dispel stereotypes and support our colleagues in need.”


American Academy of Pediatrics addresses sexual and gender-based harassment in pediatric workplaces and classrooms. American Academy of Pediatrics. August 22, 2022. Accessed August 24, 2022. https://www.aap.org/en/news-room/news-releases/aap/2022/american-academy-of-pediatrics-addresses-sexual-and-gender-based-harassment-in-pediatric-workplaces-and-classrooms/

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