National Study Reveals Striking Findings on School Sexual Harassment

A new national study, Crossing the Line, reveals some staggering statistics on school sexual harassment. The survey was conducted by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), a nonprofit research organization whose mission is to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research. A group of nearly 2,000 students across the United States were surveyed in May and June of this summer.

The survey is not the first of its kind. AAUW has been at the forefront of sexual harassment research for over a decade. You can also check out their 1993 survey, Hostile Hallways, and the 2001 follow-up report, Hostile Hallways: Bullying, Teasing, and Sexual Harassment in School.

And the Survey Says

The study reveals some striking results including the following:

  • Nearly 50% of 7th to 12th graders experience sexual harassment
  • 44% of students said they were harassed in person being subjected to unwelcome comments or jokes, inappropriate touching or sexual intimidation
  • 30% of students reported online harassment unwelcome comments, jokes, or pictures via text, email, Facebook and other tools, or having sexual rumors, information, or pictures spread about them
  • 87% of those who experience harassment reported negative effects such as absenteeism, poor sleep, and stomachaches
  • Girls reported being harassed more than boys 56% compared with 40%
  • Boys were more likely to be the harassers
  • Children from lower-income families reported more severe effects

The Effects of Sexual Harassment

The consequences of sexual harassment on the students were isolating and many times physical.

The girls reported greater negative consequences with 37% saying they did not want to go to school after being harassed as opposed to only 25% of boys. In addition, 22% of girls reported having trouble sleeping after experiencing harassment versus 14% of boys and 37% of girls said they felt sick to their stomachs following harassment compared with 21% of boys.

Students who experienced both in-person and online harassment fared worst 46% said they did not want to go to school, 44% felt sick to their stomachs, and 43% found it hard to study.

Sexual harassment, bullying, and teasing are a very big problem in schools that cannot be ignored. Walking the hallways, sitting in class, and even now at home with the internet and social media, harassment and bullying is often impossible to escape. Our students deserve better better from their school administrators and teachers in helping keep them safe and better from each other.

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Photo by studiostoer used under a Creative Commons license - http://www.flickr.com/photos/48304881@N05/5241351168/

81 comments

Sarah Metcalf
Sarah M.4 years ago

this was my school experience...it is unimaginably bleak

Lika S.
Lika S.4 years ago

We need to educate our school staff, from the administration down to the teachers and assistants to the lunch ladies.

Janine H.
Janine H.4 years ago

This is so terrible. Always when i hear about terrible things it makes me sad, and i cannot understand how someone could do something terrible - hurt, rape or kill a person or animal. When i was a child this also happened to me... and surviving this is more terrible than not (parents and other may think different, but a victim?), living with all this pain... living with guilty feelings... full with hate for the own self
No one can understand, because most people cannot imagine this, cannot imagine how much it change. Some of them think, that this would not be so terrible, because all would make some sexual experiences, and so it would not matter if there were some without own interest or wish. This cruel and superficial society makes me sick.

I know that it is not good to wish someone who does terrible things something as a punishment. But when i hear about violent people then i think why are they so "afraid" to go to someone equal and get some hits for their selves. This is a perversion, to think being more a man when beating a woman or a girl. This men are a shame for all normal men.

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

Jennifer C.
Past Member 4 years ago

Thanks.

Al D.
Al D.4 years ago

And I wonder how many times it happens that someone get accused falsely. That can be very distressing.

monica r.
monica r.4 years ago

And this is not surprising at all.

Here in middle school it is rampant. Unfortunately some of the more serious issues are that if I as a teacher did not SEE IT, then if I write it up (and I do anyway to document it) it will not result in any discipline. They just send it back to us.

This is sad. I've had things like inappropriate touching and boys exposing their genitals where because no adult saw it (and they are trying to do it so we don't see it, duh), it's like it didn't happen. I've kept all those documents so when the lawsuit happens I can prove I tried.

Darlene B.
Darlene W.4 years ago

Thanks for the posting. Sad but it also happens in the elementary of some schools also. It is all over. These things need to be addressed at the school with all the students. There is so much going on today that would not have been allowed to happen back when I was a kid. Teachers need to wake up also, some choose to ignore and not get involved which is wrong. Some need a wake up call also.

Roger Monk
Past Member 4 years ago

Grim reading, but it has to be faced. So thank you for posting.

Mel F.
Mel Fleming II4 years ago

unfortunately we still live in a societe where males are made to feel entitled. And where women are only entitled to expectations. Sexual harassment strips away not only the self esteem but the sense of person-hood, we all should be enjoying at any stage of life. Parents need to be more involved in teaching children proper behaviours toward others. Parents need to work closer with educators about this issue, and discover common sense solutions, to this alarming issue.

Chris R.
Chris R.4 years ago

Thanks Ximena.