Sexual Harassment Common in Schools

According to a new study released recently by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), nearly half of students in a national sample of students in grades 7 through 12 reported that they had been subjected to some form of sexual harassment in the 2010/2011 school year.

The report titled Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School stated that only a fraction of incidents are reported to adults. Most of the students who said they have been harassed further stated that it had a negative impact on their lives.

The study also found that girls are more often subjected to sexual harassment and that the Internet is a common medium for such acts. Moreover, eighteen percent of both girls and boys report being called gay or lesbian in a negative way.

According to the Washington Post, harassed students reported they experienced one of the following behaviors: jokes, gestures, being called gay in a negative way, being touched in an unwelcome sexual way, being shown sexual pictures that they did not want to see, etc.

Finally, the report makes some recommendations to the school system to improve students’ protection against sexual harassment. The authors recommend that all schools create a policy against sexual harassment and enforce it. They also state that staff should be properly trained to know how to help students who they see being harassed and that students should be educated about what sexual harassment is and how to respond to it if they’re victims or witnesses of such acts.

The report was based on a nationally representative sample of 1,965 students in 7th through 12th grades who were surveyed in May and June of this year.