Sexual Harassment Widespread in Schools, University Women Survey Shows

Monday, 07 Nov 2011 10:24 AM

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Sexual harassment is widespread in middle and high schools, with 48 percent of seventh- to 12th-grade students reporting that they have been subjected to unwelcome comments, touching, or intimidation, a survey of 1,965 students found. The survey also found that 56 percent of girls and 40 percent of boys reported being harassed, according to The New York Times.

The American Association of University Women survey found that 44 percent were harassed in person and 30 percent online either by texts, email, or Facebook. “It’s pervasive, and almost a normal part of the school day,” said Catherine Hill, the association’s research director and one of the authors of the report\.

Harassment most commonly took the form of comments, gestures, or jokes. About 18 percent of boys and girls reported being labeled gay or lesbian. In recounting what affected them the most, boys reported that it was being called gay.

A ninth grade boy said in the survey, ‘Everyone was saying I was gay, and I felt the need to have to run away and hide,” the Times reported.

The leading problem for girls was someone making “unwelcome sexual comments, jokes, or gestures to or about you.” Harassment had a more negative effect on girls, with 37 percent saying they did not want to go to school, compared with 25 percent of boys. Other problems associated with harassment included trouble sleeping and feeling sick to their stomach, according to the Times.

“This is an issue that’s especially complex for girls, though it affects all students,” Hill told the Times. “Boys are targets, and girls can be harassers.”


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