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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