Sexual Harassment and Bullying Experiences from Middle and High School

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Adolescents in today’s middle schools and high schools find themselves traversing a difficult terrain. In the midst of their emerging adulthood, they are pushed toward individuality and self-sufficiency, while simultaneously pressured by peers and adults to conform to ideals that are often competing rather than complimentary. Often these pressures cross the line and become harassment.

Research has estimated the percentage of middle and high school students who witness or are victims of sexual harassment as high as 90% (AAUW, 2001), the low estimates are around 50% (Walsh et. al, 2007), still a significantly high number. These students report a myriad of effects of sexual harassment on their lives. They report everything from relatively minor inconveniences such as avoiding certain hallways on campus, to more significant effects such as not being able to sleep or concentrate on school work, to highly negative effects such as dropping out of school, serious health problems, mental health problems and some even resort to suicide to get the harassment.

This proposed presentation will explore sexual harassment through the experiences of middle and high school students using a review of the research literature in conjunction with studies conducted by the authors drawing upon the memories of college freshmen. Utilizing a Critical Race Feminist (Wing, 2003) framework which identifies sexual harassment as a gendered phenomenon, we will address the effect of sexual harassment on the lives of middle and high school students; looking first at female students, then addressing the effects of sexual harassment on male students, and concluding with a section addressing harassment of LGBT students.


International Organization of Social Sciences and Behavioral Research Annual Conference (IOSSBR)


Atlantic City, NJ