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Nov 7, 2011
05:08 PM

Report: Widespread School Sexual Harassment

Report: Widespread  School Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is part of everyday life in middle and high schools, according to Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at Schools, a report commissioned by the American Association of University Women. The survey of 1,965 students in grades 7-12 conducted in May and June 2011 revealed: 

• Nearly half (48%) of students experienced some form of sexual harassment in the 2010–11 school year, and the majority of those students (87%) said it had a negative effect on them.

•Verbal harassment (unwelcome sexual comments, jokes, or gestures) made up the bulk of the incidents, but physicalharassment also common. Sexual harassment by text, e-mail, Facebook, or other electronic means affected nearly one-third (30%) of students.

• Many of the students who were sexually harassed through cyberspace were also sexually harassed in person.

• Girls were more likely than boys to be sexually harassed, by a significant margin (56% versus 40%t).

• Girls were more likely than boys to be sexually harassed both in person (52% versus 35%) and via text, e-mail, Facebook, or other electronic means (36%versus 24%).

• Being called gay or lesbian in a negative way is sexual harassment that girls and boys reported in equal numbers (18%).

• The harassers often thought they were being funny. But nearly a third of those on the receiving end said the harassment made them feel sick to their stomach, affected their study habits or made them reluctant to go to school.

• After being harassed, half of the victims did nothing about it, and only 9% reported the incident to a teacher, guidance counselor or other adult at school.

"Many of us think of sexual harassment as an adult issue," said Catherine Hill, the AAUW's director of research. But the report shows that it is an issue for teenages as well. "I think it's wonderful that bullying is getting attention, but I would like sexual harassment in that conversation," she said.

Download the Survey

Executive Summary (PDF, 2 MB)
Full Report
(PDF, 723 kB)

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