Each school day, when students should be benefitting from a safe and healthy school environment conducive to learning, sexual harassment, assault, and other forms of intimidation compromise their lives at alarming rates. Sexual harassment/assault impair students’ ability to concentrate, compromise their education, cause dropping out, and lead to self-destructive behaviors and suicide.
To illustrate, a recent survey found that nearly one-third (32 percent) of students who experienced harassment reported not wanting to go to school as a result of the harassment, and girls were more likely than boys to report harassment affecting them in this way. Sex-based harassment can be very damaging to the lives of women and girls, both in its emotional impact and in its impact on their education. Feeling unsafe at school has been correlated with declining academic performance, skipping school, and dropping out.
Sex-based harassment continues into middle and high school. In a nationwide survey of students in grades 8-11, 81 percent reported experiencing sexual harassment during their school lives. And in a recent survey of 7-12th grade students, nearly half (48 percent) experienced some form of sexual harassment during the 2010-11 school year, with a vast majority of those students (87 percent) re- porting that the harassment had a negative effect on them. Both studies found that girls were more likely than boys to have experienced harassment.
And among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, the numbers are even higher—in a study of LGBT students in grades 6-12, 85 percent of respondents reported being verbally harassed and 40 percent reporting being physically harassed at school because of their sexual orientation. Close to two-thirds (64 percent) were verbally harassed because of their gender expression. Another study found that LGBT youth were twice as likely to have been verbally harassed at school as their non-LGBT peers.
For girls and young women who drop of school due to sexual- or gender-based harassment, the long-term economic impact can be devastating. Young women who don’t graduate from high school have higher rates of unemployment than men who drop out; those who do get jobs make significantly lower wages than male dropouts. Women lacking a high school degree are also more likely to have to rely on safety net programs than their male peers or men and women who have graduated from high school and college.
And although men at every level of education make more than women with similar educational backgrounds, the wage gap is particularly high among high school dropouts: the typical woman who starts but does not finish high school is paid only 71 percent of what her male counterpart is paid. Female dropouts are more likely to live in poverty than both men and women with higher educational attainment. And children raised in such situations may find it difficult to escape poverty themselves; studies have shown that being poor at birth is a strong predictor of future poverty status, and children in poverty have lower odds of experiencing upward mobility across generations. Thus, the economic impact of sex-based harassment on women and their families can be overwhelming.
Innumerable cases in the media illustrate the impact of sexual harassment/assault upon students. Although the most dramatic cases dominate reporting, the daily cases of sexual harassment, assault, retaliation, and the deplorable response of schools are largely unknown to the public. These cases compromise and destroy lives at an alarming rate.
The Epidemic of K-12 Sexual Harassment/Assault
Hidden horror of school sex assaults revealed by AP (Associated Press)
Kindergarteners among youngest schoolhouse assault victims (Associated Press)
Alleged assault at Barnstable school prompts legal threat (Cape Cod Times)
High Schools Are Failing Girls Who Report Sexual Assault (Huffington Post)
Documents show Lansing Schools failed to comply with Title IX (WLNS.com, Lansing, MI)
Feds to investigate in wake of alleged rape at Pinnacle HS [Arizona] (12News, Phoenix)
Federal Campus Rape Investigations Near 200, And Finally Get More Funding (The Huffington Post)
Lawmakers Shift Campus Rape Conversation to High Schools (Women’s eNews)
National Women’s Law Center explains why we must deal with K-12 sexual assault now (The National Law Journal)
“To Prevent Sexual Assault, Start Early” (New York Times)
“What Should High Schools Do? 44 Percent of Sexual Assaults Happen Before College” (Huffington Post)
“In Handling Rape, High Schools Are Worse Than Colleges” (Al-Jazeera)
“By the Numbers: Sexual Violence in High School” (Al-Jazeera)
“Bay Area Schools Ignoring Title IX?” (NBC)
Articles on high school sexual assault (Huffington Post)
“Why I Say No More to Sexual Assault” Rep. Tom Reed recounts the impact of sexual assault upon his niece (video)
Sexual victimization before college increases the likelihood of being raped in college (Christian Science Monitor)
“A Father in Texas Takes On Sexual Assault in Sports” (NY Times)
Rape culture addressed head on in acclaimed journal produced by students of Palo Alto High School, investigated by the federal government for violating Title IX.
“Palo Alto Student Paper’s Stories on ‘Rape Culture’ Draw National Attention” (San Jose Mercury News)
“Plum sex abuse scandal mirrors national trend” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
Recent Reports about Title IX in K-12Read More
OCR findings: A repeated failure to properly investigate (Palo Alto Online)
“My School Punished Me“ (Slate Magazine)
Bay Area Schools Ignoring Title IX? (NBC Bay Area)
“Feds: Pervasive sexual harassment, assaults plague West Contra Costa County schools” (Contra Costa Times)
“Want to Change Rape Culture? Address It in K-12 Schools” (Campus Safety Magazine)
“Understanding Title IX Consequences at the K-12 Level” (Campus Safety Magazine)
Assaults by Privileged Athletes (in the band room, in/near schools)Read More
Football players arrested for rape in Murietta High School, CA (Huffington Post)
Florida football players’ gang rape adjacent to school (Sun Sentinel)
Steubenville, OH, high school rape case (Wikipedia)
High school football players rape middle school girls in CT (Connecticut Magazine)
Connecticut high school rape (NY Times)
Torrington. CT, high school rape case (Wikipedia)
Rape culture fostered Richmond gang rape (SF Gate)
Victim’s father reflects on Richmond gang rape (Huffington Post)
Louisville, KY, rape case (Wikipedia)
Daisy Coleman’s family speaks (ABC News)
Oral Rapes and Other Violent Assaults on School Property, School BusesRead More
Indianola schools face lawsuit after girl allegedly sexually assaulted on bus (Des Moines Register)
Girl sexually assaulted on a Fairfax County school bus (WJLA Washington, D.C.)
Forced oral rape, a common assault (TV report)
Parents share stories of bus assaults (ABC news)
Grandmother reports bus assaults (ABC news)
Teen Convicted of Rape in High School Hallway (USA Today)
Middle school boy’s peer sexual assault (WOWT News)
Sexual Harassment, Assault, Humiliation, Cyberbullying Leading to Suicide and LGBTQ DiscriminationRead More
“Trans Student: School Forced Me to Wear Wristband to Use the Bathroom” (The Daily Beast)
“The Story of Audrie Pott” (NY Daily news)
“Audrie Pott suicide: Details of online chats” (NY Daily News)
“Education Department Reminds Schools They Can’t Ignore LGBT Harassment” (Huffington Post)
“A Hidden Crisis: Including the LGBT Community When Addressing Sexual Violence on College Campuses” (Center for American Progress)
Numerous Sexual Assaults by Coaches on StudentsRead More
Coach commits suicide after charged with sexual assault of student (Providence Journal)
Overview of sexual assault of student athletes (Safe4Athletes)
Numerous Reports of Male and Female Teacher Assaults on StudentsRead More
“List of Teachers Busted for Sex With Students” (Blog with media links)
Female teacher sexual assault upon students (Deseret News)
Destructive Everyday Sexual Harassment Pervasive in Schools NationallyRead More
Below are examples of daily sexual harassment/assault reported by students at Berkeley, CA, High School, now under investigation by OCR for violation of Title IX. More examples of pervasive harassment in OCR cases appear here.
Students formed Berkeley Stop Harassing to address sexual assault and pervasive sexual harassment. Video from award ceremony (YouTube)
“Op-ed: Sexual Harassment at Berkeley High Must Stop” (Berkleyside)
Sexual Assault “Hazing”Read More
Lawsuit filed in Ooltewah High School rape case names school board and school employees as defendants (Times Free Press, Chattanooga, TN)
The Code of Silence (Times Free Press, Chattanooga, TN)
Season canceled for team at center of assault investigation (Associated Press)
ANAL HAZING Remains An Epidemic In American High Schools (Daily Caller)
“Out of Bounds”. Hazing on Long Island, NY (NY Magazine)
Milton, VT, school district sexual assault hazing (Burlington Free Press)
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