Wednesday, November 09, 2011

New study on sexual harassment of youth

We all knew that grade 7 through 12 are not always pleasant times for kids.
We know about bullying and its severe effects.
But a new study by the American Association of University Women has revealed some pretty bleak statistics around the sexual harassment of both teenage boys and girls. Over 50 percent of girls surveyed reported experiencing sexual harassment and about 40 percent of boys self-reported harassment.
The survey of just under 2,000 students asked students only to report sexual harassment (defined as unwelcome jokes or comments, inappropriate touching, and sexual intimidation) within the last year (2010-11 academic year). It included harassment that happens in person and via other mediums (texts, social media, etc.).
The effects of such harassment are both physical and mental with many reporting headaches and stomach pain.
The AAUW undertook the study to bring attention to the issue of sexual harassment, which members do not want forgotten in the midst of the discussions about bullying.
The authors, or at least the NYT's portrayal of the authors, seem to make a stricter distinction between sexual harassment and bullying than I might. Sexual harassment is a form of bullying and so much bullying involves sexual harassment.
For example, the study found that 18 percent of both girls and boys report harassment based on perceived sexual orientation. This is also bullying. This is why, in some bullying cases, Title IX violations are cited.
And, of course, all sexual harassment in schools is subject to Title IX. Though we here at the blog believe that Title IX is quite underused in sexual harassment cases. It seems that the AAUW feels similarly, though T9 only got a brief mention in the article.