According to a November 2011 report by American Association of University Women (AAUW), sexual harassment is widespread in middle and high schools across the country. Based on a May - June AAUW online survey of 1,965 7th – 12th graders, Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School reported that, 56 percent of the girls and 40 percent of the boys (48% of all students) indicated that they had experienced sexual harassment during the 2010-11 school year. Sexual harassment occurred face-to-face, via text, email, Facebook, or other electronic means. In all settings, girls experienced harassment more frequently than boys. Further, 33 percent of the girls and 24 percent of the boys witnessed the sexual harassment of others at school during the school year. Of the students harassed, 27 percent talked to their parents or other family members about the incident, but only 9 percent notified school officials.
The report found that nearly 30 percent of the students who experienced sexual harassment also identified themselves as harassers. Many students who had sexually harassed others did not think that it was a “big deal” or they were just trying to be funny; 6 percent thought the other person liked it and 3 percent wanted to date the person. “These findings suggest that prevention efforts need to address when humor crosses the line and becomes sexual harassment.”
A copy of Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School can be downloaded at www.aauw.org.