The School-Sexual Harassment “Epidemic”

On Monday, USA Today reported the results of a sexual-harassment study of junior-high and high-school students:

During the 2010-11 school year, 48% of students in grades 7-12 experienced some form of sexual harassment in person or electronically, according to a national survey being released today by the American Association of University Women.

Further into the article, the researchers’ definition of sexual harassment becomes apparent:

The survey asked 1,002 girls and 963 boys from public and private schools whether they had experienced any of various forms of sexual harassment. These included having someone make unwelcome sexual comments, being called gay or lesbian in a negative way, being touched in an unwelcome sexual way, being shown sexual pictures they didn’t want to see, and being the subject of unwelcome sexual rumors.

. . .

Nearly a third of the victims said the harassment made them feel sick to their stomach, affected their study habits or fueled reluctance to go to school at all.

Sexual harassment should not be any PG-13 behavior that makes someone feel uncomfortable. Those actions can be rebuffed by learning to say “shut up.”

Defining sexual harassment as broadly as the USA Today article does belittles its true horrors.

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