1 in 2 Students in Grades 7-12 are Sexually Harassed

WASHINGTON—Sexual harassment is part of everyday life in middle schools and high schools, according to a report just released by the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Nearly half (48 percent) of the students surveyed experienced some form of sexual harassment in the 2010-11 school year, and the majority of those students (87 percent) said it had a negative effect on them.

Verbal harassment (unwelcome sexual comments, jokes, or gestures) made up the bulk of the incidents, but physical harassment was far too common. Sexual harassment by text, e-mail, Facebook, or other electronic means affected nearly one-third (30 percent) of students. Many of the students who were sexually harassed through cyberspace were also sexually harassed in person.

Girls were more likely than boys to be sexually harassed (56 percent versus 40 percent). Girls were more likely than boys to be sexually harassed both in person (52 percent versus 35 percent) and via text, e-mail, Facebook, or other electronic means (36 percent versus 24 percent). Being called gay or lesbian in a negative way is sexual harassment that girls and boys reported in equal numbers (18 percent of students).

Related Article: How to Comply With the Dept. of Ed’s Title IX Sexual Violence Guidance

Witnessing sexual harassment at school was also common. One-third of girls (33 percent) and about one-quarter (24

percent) of boys said that they observed sexual harassment at their school in the 2010-11 school year.

Sexual harassment in grades 7-12 is rarely reported. Among students who were sexually harassed, about 9 percent reported the incident to a teacher, guidance counselor or other adult at school (12 percent of girls and 5 percent of boys). Just one-quarter (27 percent) of students said they talked about it with parents or family members (including siblings), and only about one-quarter (23 percent) spoke with friends. Half of students who were sexually harassed in the

2010-11 school year said they did nothing afterward in response to sexual harassment.

Read the executive summary.

Read the report.

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