WASHINGTON, D.C. – Nearly half of middle school and high school students in a nationally representative survey experienced some form of sexual harassment during the 2010-11 school year, according to a new report from the American Association of University Women (AAUW.)
While the majority of incidents involved verbal sexual harassment, physical harassment was too common. Thirty percent of students also experienced sexual harassment by text message, email, Facebook or some other electronic media, according to the report.
Girls were more likely than boys to be sexually harassed by a significant margin (56 percent versus 40 percent), according to the report. Girls were also more likely to be negatively affected by sexual harassment. Twenty-two percent of girls said sexual harassment caused them to have trouble sleeping, versus 14 percent of boys; 37 percent of girls said it made them not want to go to school, versus 25 percent of boys.
The widespread incidents of sexual harassment in middle school and high school may surprise adults because it is rarely reported. Only about 9 percent of students told a teacher or other adult at school about incidents of sexual harassment, according to the report. Half of the students who were sexually harassed said they did nothing afterwards in response, according to the report.
The study found that many students who admitted sexually harassing someone did not think it was a big deal (44 percent) and were just trying to be funny (39 percent). The report suggests that prevention efforts should address when humor crosses the line as well as focus on the impact that sexual harassment can have on students.
The full report, Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School, is available at the AAUW’s website.
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