Sexual harassment rampant in schools
November 8, 2011
Nearly half of America’s middle and high school students report being the target of some form of sexual harassment during the 2010-11 school year, a major national survey suggests.
Students said they were harassed in person or electronically, via texting, email and social media, according to the American Association of University Women.
The pervasive problem greatly affected the study habits and enjoyment of school time for the victims, the study’s authors reported. The actions included hallway whispers, lewd photos on cellphones, hands groping and other sexually-charged actions.
“It’s reached a level where it’s almost a normal part of the school day,” said one of the report’s co-authors, AAUW director of research Catherine Hill. “It’s somewhat of a vicious cycle. The kids who are harassers often have been harassed themselves.”
The survey asked 1,002 girls and 963 boys from public and private school nationwide if they had experienced any such sexual harassment.
The survey quoted one ninth-grade girl as saying she was called a whore “because I have many friends that are boys.” A 12th-grade boy said schoolmates circulated an image showing his face attached to an animal having sex.
In all, 56 percent of the girls and 40 percent of the boys said they had experienced at least one incident of sexual harassment during the school year.
The report comes at a time when the problem of bullying at schools is in the spotlight, in part because of several recent suicides of beleaguered students.
Students were asked for suggestions on how to reduce sexual harassment at their schools. More than half favored systematic punishments for harassers and said there should be a mechanism for reporting harassment anonymously.