According to a study released by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), 48 percent of students in grades 7-12 experience sexual harassment, either in person or through texting, emails, or social media platforms. Catherine Hill, director of research at AAUW, stated, “It’s reached a level where it’s almost a normal part of the school day. It’s somewhat of a vicious cycle. The kids who are harassers often have been harassed themselves.”
AAUW conducted the survey in both private and public schools and polled over 1,000 girls and some 963 boys. The study found that girls were more likely than boys to experience sexual harassment, with 56 percent of girls indicating that they had been harassed compared to 40 percent of boys. In regards to the gendered nature of the harassment, the study stated, “Too often, the more comfortable term bullying is used to describe sexual harassment, obscuring the role of gender and sex in these incidents. Schools are likely to promote bullying prevention while ignoring or downplaying sexual harassment.”
Moreover, only 9 percent of the students who indicated that they had been harassed reported the incident to a school official, such as a teacher or guidance counselor. The report calls for each school to develop, publicize, and a sexual harassment policy.