Study: Sexual Violence Occurs In Middle School Without Teachers Noticing

The Huffington Post (4/6, Klein) reports that “a substantial amount of sexual violence in middle school” happens in the classroom. A study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign observed that, of those surveyed, 27% of girls and 25% of boys “reported facing a form of sexual violence on middle school grounds in the past year.” Dr. Dorothy Espelage, co-author of the study and professor of educational psychology at the University of Illinois, said the types of abuse described are “a precursor to teen dating violence.” She noted that while teachers were trained to deal with bullying, they were “less educated” on sexual harassment, and school anti-bullying policies “may fail to properly consider whether the student misconduct also results in discriminatory harassment.” Espalage called for combining bullying prevention programs with sexual harassment prevention programs.

        The US News & World Report (4/6, Bidwell) reports that the most frequent form of harassment was unwanted touching, followed by rumor spreading and then”verbal sexual commentary and homophobic name-calling.” The study also reported that 9% of harassment included “normalizing.” The study noted that: “It is a cause of concern that these youth are at such a young age dismissive of behaviors that are clearly distressing.”