A new study of 7th through 12th graders across the country reveals the disturbing news that nearly half of all students experience some form of sexual harassment, with negative effects manifesting themselves in physical ways.
The "Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School" study from the American Association of University Women followed almost 2,000 students over the course of two months earlier this year. 48 percent of students overall reported being victim to some sort of sexual harassment, either in-person ("unwelcome comments or jokes, inappropriate touching or sexual intimidation") or online ("receiving unwelcome comments, jokes or pictures through texts, e-mail, Facebook and other tools, or having sexual rumors, information or pictures spread about them.").
The majority—56 percent—of victims were girls, and of that 56 percent, 52 percent they were harassed in-person and 36 percent online. “I was called a whore because I have many friends that are boys,” one ninth-grade girl said, while boys reported that the most disturbing harassment came in the form of being called "gay." Of all the students who reported that they were victims of some sort of sexual harassment, 87 percent said they were physically sick, had trouble sleeping, and even skipped school as a result.
“Bullying is getting a lot of attention,” author Holly Kearl told the Times. “We don’t want schools to forget about sexual harassment." The students in the study suggested that setting up an anonymous tip line for harassment and designating a person they could talk to would be key improvements on a day-to-day basis.