Nearly Half of Students Have Been Sexually Harrassed at School

Shocking numbers of middle and high school students are experiencing sexual harassment.

On my first day of high school I encountered a group of boys leaned against the lockers in the hallway during a passing period. As I walked past to get my math book out of my locker, they yelled out a series of numbers, laughing. At first, I didn’t understand what was going on, but as the days went by and they kept doing it—and began to make explicit comments about my body—I realized they were rating me. What I didn’t know then was that I and my female classmates were being sexually harassed. It’s been a long time since freshman year but the latest study from the American Association of University Women shows that sexual harassment in middle and high schools is alive and well.

The study found that during the last academic year, 48 percent of middle and high school students experienced sexual harassment, 87 percent of whom said it affected them negatively. Girls are still more likely to be harassed than boys; 56 percent of girls reported it compared to 40 percent of boys. The majority of harassment is verbal, including "unwelcome sexual comments, jokes, or gestures," but physical harassment is also prevalent. And in the age of texting, email, Facebook, and other social media, nearly 30 percent of students reported being sexually harassed through electronic means.

Perhaps the most troubling statistic is that more than half of students never tell anyone about what’s happening to them. Only 9 percent reported talking to a teacher, guidance counselor or administrator, while 27 percent said they discussed the harassment with their family, and 23 percent with their friends. Given that 44 percent of students who admitted to sexually harassing their peers “didn’t think of it as a big deal” and 39 percent say they were just “trying to be funny," students are pressured to perceive the harassment in the same way.

Sexual harassment makes school an unsafe space—nearly 30 percent of affected students say they have trouble sleeping, frequently feel sick, or don’t want to go to school at all. So school administrators have a responsibility to create a learning environment where students are not subjected to jokes about their body or gossip about who they may or may not have had sex with. Having a blanket sexual harassment policy on campus is a step in the right direction, but words on a wall poster aren't what really makes a difference. The students surveyed suggested that schools designate a person on campus that victims can talk to and hold class discussions about the subject. Fifty-seven percent of students said allowing them to anonymously report problems would help, while 51 percent said they’d like schools to get serious about punishing harassers.

Educating students about what sexual harassment is and creating zero-tolerance policies on campus would certainly make a difference. Let's hope this report spurs campuses to be more proactive about addressing the problem, so that they can become the safe learning environments that they're supposed to be.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user katerha

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less