Half of All Teens Face Sexual Harrassment
A shocking new survey by the a nonprofit research organization American Association of University Women found that nearly half of all students in seventh to 12th grades experienced sexual harassment in the last school year. A full 87% of those kids reported negative effects such as trouble sleeping, stomach pain, and even missing school, according to the report in The New York Times.
The organization surveyed a nationally representative group of 1,965 students and defined harassment as “unwelcome sexual behavior that takes place in person or electronically.” Girls reported being harassed more than boys (56% compared with 40%) and children from lower-income families reported more severe effects.
A full 48% of students said they were harassed during the 2010-2011 school year, 44% “in person” (which included being subjected to inappropriate touching, unwelcome comments or jokes, or sexual intimidation), and 30% reported online harassment (via email, texts, or Facebook or other social networking sites).
In an era when bullying and cyber-bullying are both garnering attention, in large part because of some high-profile gay teen deaths like those of Jamey Rodemeyer and Lawrence King, the study was meant to highlight the damage done by sexual harassment and encourage schools to come up with preventive measures.
About 18% of both boys and girls reported being called gay or lesbian in a negative way, and one telling part of the report came when students were asked to identify which types of harassment had the worst effect on them. For boys it was being called gay. For girls it was “unwelcome sexual comments, jokes or gestures to or about you.”
When asked what types of students were most at risk of harassment, the Times reports, students said “good-looking boys” were the safest, and those at most risk of being targeted for harassment? Pretty girls, ugly girls, girls who are most developed physically, and feminine boys. (So, pretty much all girls and any boy perceived to be gay).